A new survey by The International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that the majority of air travellers will not take a trip if it involves a 14-day quarantine period.

Several countries have introduced quarantine requirements for arriving passengers, with the UK government confirming this week that it will introduce quarantine measures in the near future. IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh has warned that the group’s capacity into and out of the UK would be “pretty minimal” in the event of a 14-day quarantine for arrivals.

The IATA survey of recent air travellers found that 86 per cent of travellers were “somewhat or very concerned about being quarantined while travelling”, while 69 per cent “would not consider travelling if it involved a 14-day quarantine period”.

The association said that it “strongly urges governments to find alternatives to maintaining or introducing arrival quarantine measures as part of post-pandemic travel restrictions”, and proposed “a temporary risk-based layered approach to provide governments with the confidence to open their border without quarantining arrivals”.

Proposed measures include:

  • Preventing travel by those who are symptomatic with temperature screening and other measures
  • Addressing the risks of asymptomatic travellers with governments managing a robust system of health declarations and vigorous contact tracing

The survey also found that 58 per cent of air travellers “are somewhat or very likely to restrict their initial travel to domestic journeys”, and IATA warns that international revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) are not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2024.

“Major stimulus from governments combined with liquidity injections by central banks will boost the economic recovery once the pandemic is under control,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“But rebuilding passenger confidence will take longer. And even then, individual and corporate travellers are likely to carefully manage travel spend and stay closer to home.

“The impacts of the crisis on long-haul travel will be much more severe and of a longer duration than what is expected in domestic markets. This makes globally agreed and implemented biosecurity standards for the travel process all the more critical. We have a small window to avoid the consequences of uncoordinated unilateral measures that marked the post-9.11 period. We must act fast.

“Even in the best of circumstances this crisis will cost many jobs and rob the economy of years of aviation-stimulated growth. To protect aviation’s ability to be a catalyst for the economic recovery, we must not make that prognosis worse by making travel impracticable with quarantine measures.

“We need a solution for safe travel that addresses two challenges. It must give passengers confidence to travel safely and without undue hassle. And it must give governments confidence that they are protected from importing the virus. Our proposal is for a layering of temporary non-quarantine measures until we have a vaccine, immunity passports or nearly instant COVID-19 testing available at scale.”