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Passengers will Not Return to the Skies Immediately after Covid-19, Says IATA

IATA calls on governments to work with the airline industry on measures to boost the confidence of passengers in the face of an anticipated slow recovery in demand for air travel

An immediate rebound for air travel from the catastrophic fall in passenger demand, due to the coronavirus (Covid-19), appears unlikely and a slow recovery is expected, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday.

“Passenger confidence will suffer a double whammy even after the pandemic is contained,” IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac recently told the media.

According to de Juniac, after the crisis, passenger confidence will be 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,” he said, adding that people do 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,” he said.

As underlined by IATA, 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.

An IATA-commissioned survey of recent travelers found that 60 percent anticipate a return to travel within one to two months of containment of the Covid-19 pandemic but 40 percent indicate that they could wait six months or more.

Another 69 percent indicated that they could delay a return to travel until their personal financial situation stabilizes.

De Juniac said that early indications of this “cautious return-to-travel behavior” are seen in the domestic markets of China and Australia

“The virus transmission there is largely seen to be under control. But we have not seen a return of air travel. And indicators from the US domestic market—the world’s largest—align with this,” he said.

De Juniac underlined that the passenger business came to a halt with unilateral government actions to stop the spread of the cornavirus.

“The industry re-start, however, must be built with trust and collaboration… We must start building a framework for a global approach that will give people the confidence that they need to travel once again. And, of course, this will need to be shored-up by economic stimulus measures to combat the impact of a recession,” said de Juniac.

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