What are the current, biggest travel concerns for passengers?

COVID | Nov 10, 2020 | By Satair | 3 min read

As the airline industry begins to lift itself from the devastating blow of COVID-19, many of the governing agencies and larger players in the game are assessing the new state-of-play.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the data from reports conducted by IATA, Oliver Wyman, and Honeywell to ascertain what airlines can do to reestablish public trust in air travel.

IATA: Passengers concerned about aircraft cleanliness

A recent report by IATA called Passenger insights in the times of a pandemic dawned to try and ascertain the impact of COVID-19 on long-term travel behaviour and the overall passenger perception of the aviation industry.

Based on a study conducted by the agency in April of 2020, the report reviews the opinions of 4,700 participants across eleven countries. The survey looked at answers to questions ranging from “Please select which of the following best describes the type of travel you do by plane most often?” to others like “How concerned are you personally about contracting the coronavirus/COVID-19?”

How can airlines reestablish public trust in air travel?

The report, released in July of 2020 found that out of the 4,700 people surveyed, the overall concern was regarding social distancing. 65% expressed concern about sitting next to a person infected with COVID-19.

Overall aircraft cleanliness was a concern, with 47% stating worry over using facilities like lavatories and 37% expressing concern with breathing recirculated cabin air.

The results of these findings likely led IATA to announce that due to a ‘surprisingly weak’ restart, the agency pushed its recovery predictions back to 2024.

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Oliver Wyman: Travelers wait for green light from government officials

In June, Oliver Wyman conducted their Glimpses of Recovery study, which also looked at traveller sentiment. What is interesting about this report is what it shows regarding the amount of intent to travel post-pandemic. While travel hesitations are currently high, due to similar reasoning as stated in the IATA report, nearly 60% of the 4,600 survey respondents expect to travel the same or more once the pandemic ends.

However, the report goes on to state that while the desire for travel is still present, 60% of respondents said they would only do so once governments and/or the WHO deem it safe to do so.

On the business side, 55% of business managers who took part in the survey stated that they are unsure how to move forward in regards to greenlighting employee business travel.

Honeywell: Lack of social distance is a top concern

In a survey taken by more than 700 frequent business and personal air travel passengers, the multinational conglomerate Honeywell learned more about the concerns and requirements that passengers are looking for as they consider returning to air travel.

Of those 700 people questioned, 72% stated more concern with the safety of the aircraft environment rather than the airport. Of course, social distancing is hard to do on-board an aircraft, and passengers are acutely aware of this fact. 60% of the survey respondents said that ability to social distance is their top concern. Effective PPE (personal protective equipment), such as masks and hand sanitiser, was also mentioned as being essential for peace of mind.

What are the cost considerations to achieve a contaminate-free cabin environment?

Air quality and cabin cleanliness were top of mind in over 50% of the respondents, going to further state that achieving cleanliness levels to mitigate community spread of pathogens would likely need to come from technological validation.

The Satair takeaway

Out of the three reports, the two clear considerations are passenger concerns with maintaining safe social distance on-board the cabin, and with the overall cleanliness of the cabin—including that of breathing cabin air.

Another key point to consider is the finding within the Honeywell study showing that achieving levels of cleanliness for passengers to perceive themselves as safe will likely need to come from the additions of new technologies. Cabin air cleaning and surface cleaning will presumably need to go beyond what is currently standard.

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