FLIGHT DEMAND HITS UNINSPIRING NUMBERS AS AIR TRAVEL UNCERTAINTY CONTINUES

Andrew J. Wein - Jul 6, 2020
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Between April and June, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conducted three large surveys among air passengers – including those who had flown at least once within the past 12 months. The questions were aimed primarily at the flight intentions in the near future.

4700 people from eleven countries were interviewed (Germany, France, Great Britain, Australia, USA, Canada, Chile, India, Japan, Singapore, UAE). The results were presented by IATA together with aircraft manufacturer Boeing last week as a part of two webinars entitled “Restoring confidence in air travel” in the US and India.

Sobering Results

The result regarding flight demand is sobering. Over half of the people surveyed want to wait around six months before flying again. However, almost everyone has stated that they are planning to fly again within the coming year.

At the beginning of June, IATA itself reported that the lowest point in terms of flight demand was reached in April and is now rising again. But it is now becoming clear how the pandemic is also having a negative impact on demand, even after the easing of many restrictions and at least partial resumption of air transport.

How the Results Evolved

The first survey was conducted between February 22 and 25, when the public started becoming aware of the situation. At that time, 60% of the respondents replied that they would fly again within the coming months.

In the second survey, carried out from April 6 to 9, this percentage was significantly lower, but it became interesting in the third survey (May 29 to June 2), when in some places a quasi-end of the pandemic was already being evoked.

At that time, 55% of respondents said that they wanted to wait at least six months before getting back on a plane. Moreover, 83% of the respondents said they did not want to fly if there was a quarantine obligation at the destination.

Airlines Fighting against Quarantine Restrictions

This is understandable. The fact that IATA emphasizes this and speaks of the fact that you cannot regain the trust of passengers with such restrictions also has a lot to do with lobbying. Almost at the same time as the webinars, on June 24, IATA released a press release in which the association introduced “Alternatives to the quarantine obligation”.

As mentioned, it makes sense that the aviation association is fighting the quarantine requirements. However, the impression arises as if the only viable way to regain confidence is political easing. This is at a time when countless companies, as well as private individuals, are waiting for the reimbursement of their unused tickets. It could start there – with the implementation of flexible rebooking modalities and special “fly with confidence” hygiene initiatives.

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