A survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has concluded that a significant majority of passengers have confidence in air travel safety measures. Involving 4,700 travellers in 11 markets around the world, the survey also found that passengers support mask-wearing, at least in the near-term. Nevertheless, many remain frustrated with the “hassle factor” of COVID-19 protocols, “including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements and excessive test costs”.
According to those taking part in the survey:
- 85 per cent believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
- 65 per cent agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room
Among those who had travelled since June 2020, 86 per cent felt safe onboard owing to COVID-19 measures, with 89 per cent believing protective measures are well implemented and 90 per cent that airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures.
The passengers surveyed strongly supported mask wearing onboard (83 per cent) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86 per cent), although a majority also believed the mask requirement “should be ended as soon as possible”.
Commenting on the results of the survey, IATA director general Willie Walsh said, “Air travellers recognise and value the safety measures put in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. And they support the continuation of these measures as long as necessary, but they also don’t want the measures to become permanent.
“In the meantime, 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 behavior is a particular cause for great concern.”
Nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they liked the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials, and 87 per cent supported a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75 per cent added that they would only use an app if they had full control of their vaccine/test data.
“The IATA Travel Pass enables travellers to receive, store and share their health information with governments and airlines,” said Walsh, “but they always keep control of the information on their own mobile device. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return.”
One area where passengers remain concerned is COVID-related rules and requirements, which has an effect on their willingness to travel.
The survey found that:
- 70 per cent thought the rules and accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand
- 67 per cent saw arranging testing as a hassle
- 89 per cent agreed governments should standardise 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,” said Walsh. “ 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 per cent 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..
When announcing its Travel Pass initiative earlier this year, the IATA said, “To re-open borders without quarantine and restart aviation governments need to be confident that they are effectively mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. This means having accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status.
“Informing passengers on what tests, vaccines and other measures they require prior to travel, details on where they can get tested and giving them the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable, safe and privacy-protecting manner is the key to giving governments the confidence to open borders.”
The IATA Travel Pass app is available for download on Apple Store and Google Play, but travellers can currently only use it if their airline is part of a trial.
(The IATA represents 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic.”)
Tourists travelling to the Algarve on EasyJet flights from the UK can now take advantage of convenient COVID-19 pre and post-travel tests provided by Boots.