Air travel on the rise, survey finds, but rising COVID-19 cases and vaccination issues are major headwinds
Consumer demand for air travel continues to strengthen, with 70% of consumers saying they have already booked flights for the future, according to a recent OAG survey. As a result, US domestic capacity from June to August of this year increased 81% compared to the same period in 2020.
Nonetheless, the survey of more than 1,800 U.S. travelers conducted in July and August revealed concerns about the spread of the delta variant and the resulting increased COVID transmission rates, coupled with quarrels over the requirements. and conflicting government health guidelines weaken consumer confidence.
The survey found that among nearly a third of those polled who have not yet booked a flight, 40 percent are waiting for vaccination rates and regulations to improve and 30 percent are waiting for vaccination passports to be completed. required.
The survey found that nearly two-thirds of business travelers (62%) said their companies were planning air travel in the next 12 months. However, less than half (41%) said they expected their business to return to pre-pandemic travel rates in the next 12 months.
Over the next year, 15% expect to travel about three-quarters of what they did before the pandemic, and an additional 16% said they expect their companies to take about half of the trips they did. they were performing before the pandemic. For 20 percent of survey respondents, travel will be reduced to about a quarter of its pre-pandemic levels, or limited to critical travel alone. Less than one in ten (9%) said they did not intend to travel at all.
Among business travelers who have not yet returned to the skies, 11% expect their first trip to be in the fourth quarter of 2021, while nearly 5% plan to wait until 2022.
According to a recent survey by the Global Business Travel Association, Despite the uncertainty surrounding the recent surge in the COVID-19 delta variant, business travel still appears to be on track for a comeback in the coming months. The survey found that businesses are more open to non-essential domestic business travel, with 60% saying it is “sometimes” or “usually” allowed, up from 48% in July.
The question of whether the federal government could mandate vaccinations for domestic air travelers has attracted attention of late, since President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci spoke out in favor of a vaccination mandate for traveling. In a podcast interview last week, Fauci said, “I would argue that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, you should be vaccinated.”
The OAG investigation found that travelers were divided on the issue of vaccines. Most of the consumers surveyed said they were fully vaccinated. However, only 15 percent of those who were not vaccinated said they planned to get the vaccine before their next trip.
More than two-thirds (68%) of all survey respondents said they were interested or wanted national vaccine passports, and 70% believe vaccine passports should be required for international travel.
However, among those who said they were not yet vaccinated, 56% said they still would not get the vaccine even if the airline, airport or destination required it to travel.
“Vaccination mandates are a polarizing issue,” said John Grant, senior analyst at OAG. “Many airlines, governments and destinations are actively considering mandating vaccines to fly or enter, and the majority of travelers support the use of vaccine passports. While this may fuel a burning fire, the continued strength and resilience of the entire travel market is directly linked to higher immunization levels and lower transmission rates. “