“Passenger confidence will suffer a double whammy even after the pandemic is contained—hit by personal economic concerns in the face of a looming recession on top of lingering concerns about the safety of travel. Governments and industry must be quick and coordinated with confidence-boosting measures,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
An IATA-commissioned survey of recent travelers found that:
- 60% anticipate a return to travel within one to two months of containment of the COVID-19 pandemic but 40% indicate that they could wait six months or more
- 69% indicated that they could delay a return to travel until their personal financial situation stabilizes
The Australian and Chinese domestic markets provide early indications of this cautious return-to-travel behavior.
In Australia, domestic demand continued to deteriorate even after the rate of new infections fell into single digits. Even as new infections near zero, total domestic flights are at just 10% of pre-COVID-19 levels. In China, though there was an early upswing from mid-February into the first week of March, the number of domestic flights plateaued at just over 40% of pre-COVID-19 levels.
Domestic market behavior is a critical indicator as the post-pandemic recovery is expected to be led by domestic travel, followed by regional and then intercontinental as governments progressively remove restrictions.
“In some economies, the spread of COVID-19 has slowed to the point where governments are planning to lift the most severe elements of social distancing restrictions,” said de Juniac. “But an immediate rebound from the catastrophic fall in passenger demand appears unlikely. People still want to travel. But they are telling us that they want clarity on the economic situation and will likely wait for at least a few months after any ‘all clear’ before returning to the skies. As countries lift restrictions, confidence boosting measures will be critical to re-start travel and stimulate economies.”