Flying habits are set to change drastically for
the long-term, with nine in ten airline passengers (93%) from the
Asia Pacific (APAC) region surveyed not expecting to return to
their previous travel routines once the COVID19 pandemic is over.

This is just one of the key findings from a
new global passenger survey commissioned by Inmarsat, a
leader in global mobile satellite communications.

The ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’
reflects the views and attitudes of 9,500 respondents across the
globe about the future of flying, including 2,500 from Singapore,
Australia, South Korea and India in the APAC region.

The survey revealed that APAC passengers adopt a
particularly cautious attitude towards COVID19, with 57% of those
surveyed describing their behaviour towards the pandemic as
‘highly cautious’, compared to 48 per cent globally.

Walkway at London Heathrow. Picture by Steven Howard of Click to enlarge.

The pandemic
also seems to have sparked a shift in attitudes to travel in Asia,
where almost half (49%) of respondents expect to travel less by
any means and 37 per cent plan to fly less in the future. This
sentiment is even stronger in India and South Korea, with 58 per
cent and 55 per cent surveyed planning to travel less in the
future respectively.

Despite this, there are early signs that APAC
travellers are starting to feel confident about flying again.
Passengers in the region are more likely than the global average
to have flown since the pandemic began: 41 per cent of APAC
respondents – and as much as 56 per cent of Indian respondents –
have taken at least one flight since the pandemic reached their
countries, compared to just 34 per cent globally. The majority
(60%) of APAC passengers surveyed expect to feel fully ready to
fly within the next year.

David Coiley, Vice President Asia Pacific,
Inmarsat Aviation, said, “The ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’
reveals that Asian travellers are more confident with the safety
of the passenger journey than their counterparts. This also
reflects prevailing conditions in the region, where the spread of
COVID19 has largely abated across most markets, relative to other
regions experiencing a resurgent wave of infections and further
lockdowns. Given the level of consumer confidence, the outlook of
the aviation industry in Asia Pacific is looking optimistic.

“The revival of domestic travel in China and India
– two of the biggest markets in the region – further reflects
passenger confidence in the region. In China, we saw domestic
passenger volumes for the month of September increase from the
same period last year, while domestic travel volumes in India are
forecast to recover to pre-COVID levels by the end of the year.”

When asked to rate their confidence around the
safety and health precautions currently undertaken across all
touchpoints throughout the journey, APAC respondents recorded an
aggregated score of 6.27 (out of 10, with 10 being the highest
level of confidence), higher than the global average score of

The majority also perceive public spaces such as
restaurants, cinemas, public transport, and public toilets to be
either as risky, or even riskier than, taking a flight. Recent
IATA research supports this, suggesting people are more likely to
be struck by lightning than catch COVID19 on a plane.

To further boost confidence in flying, APAC
passengers surveyed identify a need for clearer information about
border restrictions, standardised practices across all airlines
and a consistent worldwide set of safety standards as particular
areas for improvement.

When asked to identify the most effective
personal safety measures, passengers identified wearing a face
mask both inflight and in airports, and only being allowed to fly
after a 48-hour test. Notably, only 10 per cent identified a
14-day quarantine as a top factor.

While the majority of APAC passengers (65%)
surveyed feel satisfied with the aviation industry’s response to
the challenges of COVID19, the survey reveals areas of
opportunity for airlines to encourage passengers back to the

Almost half (48%) of APAC respondents believe that
reputation is more significant factor when choosing an airline
today than it was pre-pandemic. It has therefore never been more
vital for airlines to differentiate and gain a competitive edge.
The research highlights that improving inflight experience is one
way to achieve this. From extra legroom (44%) to free baggage
(36%), value added services are becoming increasingly important to
passengers returning to the skies. Digital solutions are
fast-becoming essential to an enjoyable inflight experience, with
four in ten (40%) of respondents agreeing that on-board Wi-Fi matters
more today than ever before.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation,
said, “With safety and reputation becoming even more important to
today’s flyers, there is a clear need for airlines to
differentiate themselves in order to encourage passengers back
onto their flights. Digitalisation lies at the heart of both;
minimising critical touchpoints in the passenger journey to
improve confidence, all the while keeping passengers connected and

See also:

Airports, Air Travel and COVID19 – Exclusive Interview with SITA’s
President of Asia Pacific, Sumesh Patel.

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