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Wed, 10 March 2021

New IATA Survey Reveals Growing Confidence in a Return to Air Travel

The results from IATA's latest poll of travelers, reveals growing confidence in a return to air travel, frustration with current travel restrictions, and acceptance of a travel app to manage health credentials for travel.

Respondents qualified for the survey if they had taken a plane trip in the past 11 months. A total of 4,700 interviews were conducted online in 11 markets between 15 and 23 February 2021. The sample size was 500 in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, India and Australia, whilst in Chile, Japan, UAE and Singapore the sample size was 300.

Some of the highlights found in the poll concerning travel restrictions include:

Thai Airways and Thai Smile aircraft at Suvarnabhumi Int. Airport (BKK) near Bangkok, Thailand. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

- 38% "agree strongly" and 50% "agree somewhat" that when opening borders, the right balance must be struck between managing COVID19 risks and getting the economy going again;

- 35% "agree strongly" and 50% "agree somewhat" that governments should set COVID19 targets (such as testing capacity or vaccine distribution) to re-open borders;

- 37% "agree strongly" and 47% "agree somewhat" that COVID19 will not disappear, and we need to manage its risks while living and traveling normally

- 27% "agree strongly" and 41% "agree somewhat" that their quality of life has suffered with travel restrictions; and

- 21% "agree strongly" and 28% "agree somewhat" that air travel restrictions have gone too far.

The top priority of everybody at the moment is staying safe amid the COVID19 crisis, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATAs Director General and CEO. But it is important that we map a way to being able to re-open borders, manage risks and enable people to get on with their lives. That includes the freedom to travel. It is becoming clear that we will need to learn to live and travel in a world that has COVID19. Given the health, social and economic costs of travel restrictions, airlines should be ready to re-connect the world as soon as governments are able to re-open borders. Thats why a plan with measurable milestones is so critical. Without one, how can we be prepared for restart without an unnecessary delay?

Future Travel Trends

- 57% expect to be traveling within two months of the pandemic being contained (improved from 49% in September 2020);

- 72% want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible (improved from 63% in September 2020);

- 39% "agree strongly" and 42% "agree somewhat" that they will be more likely to travel once they are vaccinated;

- 48% "agree strongly" and 36% "agree somewhat" that they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at destination (largely unchanged from 83% in September 2020); and

- 20% "agree strongly" and 36% "agree somewhat" that they will postpone travel until the economy stabilizes (improved from 65% in September 2020).

Survey responses are telling us that people are becoming more confident to travel. Those expecting to travel within a few months of COVID19 containment now account for 57% of survey respondents (improved from 49% in September 2020). This is supported by vaccine rollout which indicates that 81% of people will be more likely to travel once vaccinated. And 72% of respondents want to travel as soon as possible after COVID19 is contained to see friends and family.

There are some headwinds in travel trends. About 84% of travelers will not travel if it involves quarantine at destination. And there are still indications that the pick-up in business travel will take time with 62% of respondents saying they are likely to travel less for business even after the virus is contained. That is, however, a significant improvement from the 72% recorded in September 2020.

People want to get back to travel, but quarantine is the showstopper, said de Juniac. As testing capacity and technology improves and the vaccinated population grows, the conditions for removing quarantine measures are being created. And this points us again towards working with governments for a well-planned re-opening as soon as conditions allow.

IATA Travel Pass

- 47 "agree strongly" and 41% "agree somewhat" that governments need to standardize vaccine and testing certificates;

- 34% "agree strongly" and 46% "agree somewhat" are encouraged by the prospect of the IATA Travel Pass App and would use it as soon as available; and

- 32% "agree strongly" and 46% "agree somewhat" will only use a travel credential app if they have full control over their data.

Travel health credentials are already opening borders to some countries. IATA believes that such a system needs global standards and the highest level of data security.

The survey produced very encouraging data indicating traveler willingness to use a secure mobile phone app to manage their travel health credentials. Four of five people surveyed would like to use this technology as soon as it becomes available. They also expect that travel health credentials (vaccine or test certificates) must comply with global standardsa work that is still in progress by governments.

Survey respondents also sent a clear message on the importance of data security. Some 78% of travelers will not use an app if they are not in full control of their data. And about 60% will not use a travel credential app if data is stored centrally.

We are designing IATA Travel Pass with the traveler in mind. Passengers keep all the data on their mobile devices, and they remain in full control of where that data goes. There is no central database. While we are making good progress with numerous trials, we are still awaiting the global standards for digital testing and vaccine certificates. Only with global standards and governments accepting them can we maximize efficiency and deliver an optimum travel experience, de Juniac said.

You can download the full results in .pdf here.

IATA Travel Pass - Exclusive Video Interview with Vinoop Goel

Editor's note: As the above video interview was conducted over the internet, I would like to apologise that the audio and visual quality are not up to the same HD/UHD quality that it normally would be. Hopefully it won't be too long until we are once again conducting exclusive video interviews in person, but for now we have to make do with what we have. Thank you.

See also: Future of Airline Distribution and NDC - Interview with Yanik Hoyles, IATA (November 2019).

See latest Travel Industry News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, IATA, IATA Travel Pass, Trends.

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