Concerns over Covid travel rules should be ‘wake-up call’ to governments

A wide-ranging poll on consumer attitudes to air travel – with the majority struggling with Covid-related rules – should be a “wake-up” call to governments.

Iata found that most people are frustrated with the “hassle factor” around Covid protocols, including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive test costs.

The airline industry body’s Director general Willie Walsh, ex-boss of British Airways owner IAG, said: “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.”

The survey of 4,700 travellers in 11 markets around the world found that many struggle with Covid-related rules and requirements and that this impacts their willingness to travel:

  • 70% thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand
  • 67% saw arranging testing as a hassle
  • 89% agreed governments must standardize vaccinations/testing certifications

Almost nine out of ten respondents like the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials and 87% support a secure digital system to manage health credentials.

However, 75% say they will only use an app if they have full control of their vaccine/test data.

The poll results show that:

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

Among those who have travelled since June 2020, 86% felt safe on board owing to Covid-19 measures:

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

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

Walsh added: “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 behaviour is a particular cause for great concern.”

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