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Air travellers have mixed reactions over Covid-19 protocols, IATA survey finds

Most passengers were frustrated with the ’hassle factor’ around Covid-19 protocols.Picture: Pexels.

Most passengers were frustrated with the ’hassle factor’ around Covid-19 protocols.Picture: Pexels.

Published Jul 22, 2021


The latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) passenger survey reveals travellers’ thoughts on air safety and Covid-19 protocols.

The survey, conducted in June among 4 700 travellers in 11 markets, reveals that 85% believed aircraft were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected while 65% felt the air in an aircraft was as clean as an operating room.

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Around 86% felt safe onboard owing to the Covid-19 measures, 89% believed protective measures were well implemented and 90% felt airline personnel did a good job of enforcing the measures.

Around 83% of people supported mask-wearing onboard and 86% did not mind the strict enforcement of mask rules. However, some wanted the mask requirement to end as soon as possible.

IATA director general Willie Walsh said air travellers recognised and valued the safety measures put in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission during air travel.

"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," he said.

Most of the travellers were also frustrated with the “hassle factor” around Covid-19 protocols, including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive test costs, the survey found.

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Around 70% thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand, 67% saw arranging testing as a hassle, and 89% 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,” Walsh said.

“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.

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“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.”

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