Cabin Pressure: Survey Shows 33% Travellers Won’t Fly Due To COVID-19 Scare

by GoNews Desk 4 weeks ago Views 579
Travellers are taking precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19 with 77% saying that they are washing their hands more frequently, 71% avoiding large meetings and 67% having worn a facemask in public. Some 58% of those surveyed said that they have avoided air travel, with 33% suggesting that they will avoid travel in future as a continued measure to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.

These are the indications coming from a survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which released a public opinion research document. The study shows that the willingness to travel is being tempered by concerns over the risks of catching COVID-19 during air travel. The industry’s re-start plans address passenger’s main concerns.

When asked to rank the top three measures that would make them feel safer, 37% cited COVID-19 screening at departure airports, 34% agreed with mandatory wearing of facemasks and 33% noted social distancing measures on aircraft.

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Passengers themselves displayed a willingness to play a role in keeping flying safe by:

Undergoing temperature checks (43%)

Wearing a mask during travel (42%)

Checking-in online to minimize interactions at the airport (40%)

Taking a COVID-19 test prior to travel (39%)

Sanitizing their seating area (38%).

“People are clearly concerned about COVID-19 when travelling. But they are also reassured by the practical measures being introduced by governments and the industry under the Take-off guidance developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These include mask-wearing, the introduction of contactless technology in travel processes and screening measures. To have maximum effect, it is critical that governments deploy these measures globally,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

The survey also pointed to some key issues in restoring confidence where the industry will need to communicate the facts more effectively. Travellers’ top on board concerns include:

Cabin air quality: Travellers have not made up their minds about cabin air quality. While 57% of travellers believed that air quality is dangerous, 55% also responded that they understood that it was as clean as the air in a hospital operating theatre. The quality of air in modern aircraft is, in fact, far better than most other enclosed environments.

Social distancing: Governments advise to wear a mask (or face covering) when social distancing is not possible, as is the case with public transport. This aligns with the expert ICAO Take-off guidance. Additionally, while passengers are sitting in close proximity on board, the cabin air flow is from ceiling to floor. This limits the potential spread of viruses or germs backwards or forwards in the cabin. There are several other natural barriers to the transmission of the virus on board, including the forward orientation of passengers (limiting face-to-face interaction), seatbacks that limit transmission from row-to-row, and the limited movement of passengers in the cabin.

“It is no secret that passengers have concerns about the risk of transmission on board. They should be reassured by the many built-in anti-virus features of the air flow system and forward-facing seating arrangements. No environment is risk free, but few environments are as controlled as the aircraft cabin. And we need to make sure that travellers understand that,” said de Juniac.

No Quick Solution

While nearly half of those surveyed (45%) indicated they would return to travel within a few months of the pandemic subsiding; this is a significant drop from the 61% recorded in the April survey. Overall, the survey results demonstrate that people have not lost their taste for travel, but there are blockers to returning to pre-crisis levels of travel:

A majority of travellers surveyed plan to return to travel to see family and friends (57%), to vacation (56%) or to do business (55%) as soon as possible after the pandemic subsides. But, 66% said that they would travel less for leisure and business in the post-pandemic world. Whereas 64% indicated that they would postpone travel until economic factors improved (personal and broader).

One of the biggest blockers to industry recovery is quarantine. Some 85% of travellers reported concern for being quarantined while travelling, a similar level of concern to those reporting general concern for catching the virus when travelling (84%). And, among the measures that travellers were willing to take in adapting to travel during or after the pandemic, only 17% reported that they were will willing to undergo quarantine.

“Quarantine is a demand killer. Keeping borders closed prolongs the pain by causing economic hardship well beyond airlines. If governments want to re-start their tourism sectors, alternative risk-based measures are needed,” said de Juniac.

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