IATA SURVEY: Pax support mask-wearing on planes

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Despite the pandemic, there is still a lot of pent-up demand to travel.(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

MRO_AsiaPacificVirtualThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that based on its latest passenger survey conducted in June, most air travelers are confident about the safety of air travel and support mask-wearing in the near-term. However, a majority are also frustrated with the “hassle factor” around COVID-19 protocols, including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive test costs.

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Airlines like Qantas require masks on flights. (PHOTO: Qantas)

The survey of 4,700 travelers in 11 markets around the world shows that:

  • 85 percent believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected;
  • 65 percent agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room.

Among those who have traveled since June 2020, 86 percent felt safe onboard owing to COVID-19 measures:

  • 89 percent believe protective measures are well implemented.
  • 90 percent believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures.

Passengers strongly support mask wearing onboard (83 percent) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86 percent), but a majority also believe the mask requirement should be ended as soon as possible.

“Air travelers 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 behaviour is a particular cause for great concern,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

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IATA Director General William “Willie” Walsh, former CEO of IAG (PHOTO: Stuart Bailey)

At the same time, participants admit that they struggle with the COVID-related rules and requirements and that this impacts their willingness to travel:

  • 70 percent thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand;
  • 67 percent saw arranging testing as a hassle;
  • 89 percent agreed governments must 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. 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% 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,” said Walsh.

Almost nine out of 10 respondents like the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials and 87 percent support a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75 percent say they will only use an app if they have full control of their vaccine/test data. “IATA Travel Pass enables travelers to receive, store and share their health information with governments and airlines but they always keep control of the information on their own mobile device. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return,” said Walsh.

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