According to a recent IATA passenger survey, most air travellers are confident in the safety of air travel and support the use of masks in the near term. However, the majority of respondents are also dissatisfied with the “hassle factor” associated with COVID-19 protocols, which includes confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and exorbitant test costs.
According to the International Air Transport Association’s survey of 4,700 travellers in 11 markets around the world:
• 85% believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
• 65% agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room
Among those who have travelled since June 2020, 86% felt safe onboard owing to COVID-19 measures. Additionally:
• 89% believe protective measures are well implemented
• 90% believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures
Passengers strongly support mask wearing onboard (83%) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86%), but a majority also believe the mask requirement should be ended as soon as possible.
“Air travellers recognize and value the safety measures put in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. And they support the continuation of these measures, if necessary, but they also don’t want the measures to become permanent,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
“In the meantime,” he adds, “we all need to respect the rules and the safety of fellow passengers. It is unacceptable that unruly passenger incidents have doubled compared to 2019, and the increase in physically abusive behaviour is a particular cause for great concern.”
Survey participants admitted that they also struggle with the COVID-related rules and requirements and that this impacts their willingness to travel:
• 70% thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand
• 67% saw arranging testing as a hassle
• 89% agreed governments must standardize vaccinations/testing certifications
“These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart. Almost two-thirds of respondents plan to resume travel within a few months of the pandemic being contained (and borders opened). And by the six-month mark, almost 85% expect to be back to travel. To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass for vaccine and testing documentation,” said Walsh.
Almost nine out of ten respondents like the idea of storing their travel health credentials in a mobile app, and 87 percent support a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75% say they will only use an app if they have complete control over their vaccination/test data.
According to the airline association, governments should follow recent World Health Organization (WHO) guidance and consider exempting vaccinated passengers from testing requirements.
By Joe Cusmano