Most Airline Passengers Support Mask Wearing: IATA

 - July 21, 2021, 7:56 AM

A recent International Air Transport Association (IATA) survey shows that most air travelers support mask-wearing in the near term even while expressing confidence in the safety of air travel, the group reported Wednesday. However, a majority also remain frustrated with the “hassle factor” around Covid-19 protocols, including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive test costs. 

Conducted in June, the survey of 4,700 travelers in 11 markets around the world reveals that 85 percent of respondents believe that airlines thoroughly clean and disinfect their aircraft and 65 percent agree that air cleanliness in an aircraft matches that of an operating room. Among those who have traveled since June 2020, 86 percent felt safe on board due to Covid-19 measures. Passengers also strongly support mask-wearing onboard (83 percent) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86 percent), but a majority also believe the mask requirement should end as soon as possible.

At the same time, participants admit that Covid-related rules and requirements affect their willingness to travel. Seventy percent agreed that the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand, 67 percent saw arranging tests as burdensome, and 89 percent said governments must standardize vaccination/testing certifications.

Finally, almost nine out of 10 respondents like the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials, and 87 percent support a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75 percent say they will use an app only if they can maintain full control of their vaccine/test data.

“These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh. “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 percent 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.”