Most air travellers are confident about the safety of air travel and support mask-wearing in the near-term, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The organisation carried out a passenger survey in May across 11 markets around the world, which revealed that 85 per cent of respondents believe that aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, with 65 per cent agreeing that the air is as clean as an operating room.

When it comes to wearing masks onboard, 83 per cent of passengers are in favour, and 86 per cent support the strict enforcement of mask rules.

Additionally, 86 per cent of those who have travelled since June 2020 felt safe onboard owing to Covid measures – 89 per cent believed that protective measures are well implemented, and 90 per cent believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, commented:

“Air travellers recognize and value the safety measures put in place to minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission during air travel. And they support the continuation of these measures as long as necessary, but they also don’t want the measures to become permanent. In the meantime, we all need to respect the rules and the safety of fellow passengers. It is unacceptable that unruly passenger incidents have doubled compared to 2019, and the increase in physically abusive behaviour is a particular cause for great concern.”

The survey also showed that the majority of the respondents were frustrated with Covid-19 protocols: 70 per cent thought the rules and paperwork were a challenge to understand; 67 per cent saw arranging testing as a hassle; and 89 per cent agreed that governments must standardise vaccinations and testing certifications.

Walsh added:

“These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart. Almost two thirds of respondents plan to resume travel within a few months of the pandemic being contained (and borders opened). And by the six-month mark almost 85% expect to be back to travel. To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass for vaccine and testing documentation.”

In May, IATA warned that airport processing times could reach eight hours per trip as traffic recovers, unless governments moved quickly to adopt digitized solutions for Covid-19 checks.

Finally, almost nine out of ten respondents were in favour of the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials, with 87 per cent supporting a secure digital system to manage such credentials. Three-quarters of respondents, howver, will only use an app if they have full control of their vaccine/test data.

IATA has developed a Travel Pass, enabling passengers to receive Covid-19 test results and verify they are eligible to undertake their journey through an ‘OK to Travel’ status. Over 50 airlines have signed up for trials in the coming weeks and months. To read more about the initiative, see:

IAG working with IATA on its new Travel Pass