A fresh round of research from aviation’s peak body has reiterated willingness to travel is being tempered by concerns over the risks of COVID-19 exposure.
From a surveyed pool of more than 4,700 travellers, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found key information it expects will assist in aviation’s restart plans.
According to the research, travellers are taking precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19, with 77 per cent of travellers saying that they are washing their hands more frequently, 71 per cent avoiding large meetings, and 67 per cent having worn a facemask in public.
Some 58 per cent of those surveyed said that they have avoided air travel, with 33 per cent suggesting that they will avoid travel in future as a continued measure to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.
Travellers identified their top concerns before boarding as being in a crowded bus or train on the way to their aircraft (59 per cent); queuing at check-in, security, border control or boarding (42 per cent); and using airport restrooms or toilet facilities (38 per cent).
The top concerns for travellers once on board aircraft are the potential to sit next to someone who might be infected (65 per cent); using aircraft restrooms or toilet facilities (42 per cent); and breathing the air on the plane (37 per cent).
From the findings, IATA said it was clear that travellers have not made up their minds about cabin air quality.
While 57 per cent of travellers believed that air quality is dangerous, 55 per cent 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,” IATA said.
“It is exchanged with fresh air every 2–3 minutes, whereas the air in most office buildings is exchanged two to three times per hour.”
IATA maintains the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters used on modern aircraft capture “well over” 99.9 per cent of germs, and said this extends to the coronavirus.
When asked to rank the top three measures that would make them feel safer, 37 per cent of travellers cited COVID-19 screening at departure airports, 34 per cent agreed with mandatory wearing of facemasks and 33 per cent noted social distancing measures on aircraft.
Passengers have also shown a willingness to play a role in keeping flying safe by undergoing temperature checks (43 per cent), wearing a mask during travel (42 per cent), and checking-in online to minimise interactions at the airport (40 per cent).
Furthermore, travellers are also willing to take a COVID-19 test prior to travel (39 per cent), and sanitise their seating area (38 per cent).
While nearly half of those surveyed (45 per cent) indicated they would return to travel within a few months of the pandemic subsiding, this is a significant drop from the 61 per cent recorded in IATA’s 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, IATA said.
A majority of travellers surveyed plan to return to travel to see family and friends (57 per cent), to vacation (56 per cent) or to do business (55 per cent) as soon as possible after the pandemic subsides.
However, 66 per cent said that they would travel less for leisure and business in the post-pandemic world, and 64 per cent indicated they would postpone travel until personal and broader economic factors improved.
Featured image source: iStock/kokouu