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IATA Poll: Inability to Travel is Taking a Toll

A survey of recent travelers by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that people are frustrated with the loss of freedom to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic as 68 percent of respondents indicated their quality of life is suffering and nearly 40 percent reported mental stress due to travel restrictions.  One third of the respondents said that the restrictions have prevented them from conducting business normally.

While there is public support for travel restrictions, it is becoming clear that people are feeling more comfortable with managing the risks associated with the Coronavirus.  And airlines need to be ready.

“The top priority of everybody at the moment is staying safe amid the COVID-19 crisis,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.  “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?”

The IATA survey found that:

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

The survey also found that:

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

While there are some headwinds in travel trends, about 84 percent of travelers will not travel if it involves a quarantine at the destination.

“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.