GENEVA, 11 March 2021: Airline travel confidence revives, frustrations
with current travel restrictions continue, and a growing acceptation of apps to
manage health credentials for travel are the positive takeaways from the
International Air Transport Association latest poll.


  • 88% believe that when opening borders, the right balance must be
    struck between managing COVID-19 risks and getting the economy going again.
  • 85% believe that governments should set COVID-19 targets (such as
    testing capacity or vaccine distribution) to re-open borders.
  • 84% believe that COVID-19 will not disappear, and we need to manage
    its risks while living and travelling normally.
  • 68% agreed that their quality of life has suffered from travel restrictions.
  • 49% believe that air travel restrictions have gone too far.

While there is public support for travel restrictions, it is becoming
clear that people are feeling more comfortable with managing the risks of
Covid-19 rather than adopting mandatory measures to reduce travel.

People are also feeling frustrated with the loss of freedom to travel,
with 68% of respondents indicating their quality of life is suffering as a
result. Travel restrictions come with health, social and economic consequences.
Nearly 40% of respondents reported mental stress and missing a critical human
moment as a result of travel restrictions. And over a third have said that
restrictions prevent them from conducting their business.

“The top priority of everybody at the moment is staying safe amid
the COVID-19 crisis. But it is important that we map a way to being able to
re-open borders, manage risks and enable people to get on with their lives.
That includes the freedom to travel. It is becoming clear that we will need to
learn to live and travel in a world that has COVID-19. Given the health, social
and economic costs of travel restrictions, airlines should be ready to
re-connect the world as soon as governments are able to re-open borders. That’s
why a plan with measurable milestones is so critical. Without one, how can we
be prepared for restart without an unnecessary delay?” said IATA’s
director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

Future Travel

  • 57% expect to be travelling within two months of the pandemic being contained (improved from 49% in September 2020)
  • 72% want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible (improved from 63% in September 2020)
  • 81% believe that they will be more likely to travel once they are vaccinated
  •  84% said they would not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at the destination (mostly unchanged from 83% in September 2020)
  • 56% believe that they will postpone travel until the economy stabilizes (improved from 65% in September 2020)

Survey responses are telling us that people are becoming more
confident to travel. Those expecting to travel within a few months of
“Covid-19 containment” now account for 57% of survey respondents
(improved from 49% in September 2020). This is supported by vaccine rollout,
which indicates that 81% of people will be more likely to travel once
vaccinated. And 72% of respondents want to travel as soon as possible after
COVID-19 is contained to see friends and family.

There are some headwinds in travel trends. About 84% of travellers
will not travel if it involves quarantine at the destination. And there are
still indications that the pick-up in business travel will take time, with 62%
of respondents saying they are likely to travel less for business even after
the virus is contained. That is, however, a significant improvement from the
72% recorded in September 2020.

“People want to get back to travel, but quarantine is the
showstopper. As testing capacity and technology improves, and the vaccinated
population grows, the conditions for removing quarantine measures are being
created. And this points us again towards working with governments for a
well-planned re-opening as soon as conditions allow,” said de Juniac.

IATA Travel Pass

  • 89% of respondents believe that governments need to standardize
    vaccine and testing certificates
  • 80% are encouraged by the prospect of the IATA Travel Pass App and
    would use it as soon as available
  • 78% will only use a travel credential app if they have full control
    over their data

Travel health credentials are already opening borders to some
countries. IATA believes that such a system needs global standards and the
highest level of data security.

The survey produced very encouraging data indicating traveller willingness to use a secure mobile phone app to manage their travel health credentials. Four of five people surveyed would like to use this technology as soon as it becomes available.  They also expect that travel health credentials (vaccine or test certificates) must comply with global standards – a work that is still in progress by governments.

Survey respondents also sent a clear message on the importance of data
security.  Some 78% of travellers will
not use an app if they are not in full control of their data. And about 60%
will not use a travel credential app if data is stored centrally.

“We are designing IATA Travel Pass with the traveller in mind.
Passengers keep all the data on their mobile devices, and they remain in full
control of where that data goes. There is no central database. While we are
making good progress with numerous trials, we are still awaiting the global
standards for digital testing and vaccine certificates. Only with global
standards and governments accepting them can we maximize efficiency and deliver
an optimum travel experience,” said de Juniac.