Air travellers do not see the necessity of travel restrictions to control Covid-19, believe the minimal risks of the virus can be managed while living and traveling normally, and say it is morally wrong to restrict travel to only those who have been vaccinated.
That’s according to a new survey commissioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which revealed intense passenger frustration at Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The survey demonstrated overwhelming confidence that the risks of Covid-19 can be effectively managed and that freedom to travel should be restored, IATA said.
The organisation noted “strong views” among respondents against making vaccination a condition for air travel. About two-thirds feel it is morally wrong to restrict travel only to those who have been vaccinated.
“People are increasingly frustrated with the Covid-19 travel restrictions and even more have seen their quality of life suffer as a result. They don’t see the necessity of travel restrictions to control the virus. And they have missed too many family moments, personal development opportunities and business priorities. In short, they miss the freedom of flying and want it restored. The message they are sending to governments is: Covid-19 is not going to disappear, so we must establish a way to manage its risks while living and traveling normally,” said IATA’s director general Willie Walsh.
A strong majority of respondents (67 per cent) felt that most country borders should be opened now, up 12 percentage-points from a survey conducted by IATA in June 2021. A similarly large number of respondents (64 per cent) feel that border closures are unnecessary and have not been effective in containing the virus (up 11 percentage points from June). And 73 per cent responded that their quality of life is suffering as a result of Covid-19 travel restrictions (up six percentage points from June 2021).
The biggest deterrent to air travel continues to be quarantine measures, with 84 per cent of respondents indicating that they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at their destination. The vast majority of respondents (73 per cent) said a negative test result was sufficient to remove quarantine measures.
While 85 per cent of respondents were willing to be tested if required in the travel process, the cost and inconvenience of such tests remains a significant barrier. Some 75 per cent of respondents indicated that the cost of testing is a barrier to travel, with 80 per cent believing that governments should bear the cost of testing. 77 per cent of respondents said the inconvenience of testing was a barrier to travel.
“There is a message here for governments. People are willing to be tested to travel. But they don’t like the cost or the inconvenience. Both can be addressed by governments,” said Walsh.
“People want to travel. 86 per cent expect to be travelling within six months of the crisis ending. With Covid-19 becoming endemic, vaccines being widely available and therapeutics improving rapidly, we are quickly approaching that point in time. People also tell us that they are confident to travel. But what those who have travelled are telling us is that the rules are too complex and the paperwork too onerous.”
The IATA survey featured 4,700 respondents in 11 markets and was conducted in September.