Six more airlines are implementing Air Travel Pass, survey shows travelers growing frustrated with restrictions

Six more airlines are implementing Air Travel Pass, survey shows travelers growing frustrated with restrictions

06/10/2021, by WiT, in News, Regions, Sectors

EVEN as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released research showing that air travelers are increasingly frustrated with Covid-19 travel restrictions, it also announced that Etihad Airways, Jazeera Airways, Jetstar , Qantas, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian, will implement IATA Travel Pass in a phased rollout across airline networks.

These five airlines join Emirates Airline as pioneers in the implementation of the IATA Travel Pass.

The announcement, made on the sidelines of IATA’s 77th Annual General Meeting in Boston, follows 11 months of extensive testing by 76 airlines.

“After months of testing, IATA Travel Pass is now entering its operational phase. The app has proven to be an effective tool for managing the complex mess of travel health credentials that governments need. And it’s a big vote of confidence that some of the world’s best-known airline brands will be making it available to their customers over the next few months,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.

IATA Travel Pass is a mobile application that can receive and verify a range of Covid-19 test results and digital vaccine certificates. Currently, vaccine certificates from 52 countries (representing the source of 56% of global air travel) can be managed using the app. This will grow to 74 countries, representing 85% of global traffic, by the end of November.

Meanwhile, an IATA-commissioned survey of 4,700 respondents in 11 markets in September demonstrated confidence that the risks of Covid-19 can be effectively managed and freedom to travel must be restored.

  • 67% of respondents felt that most national borders should be open now, up 12 percentage points from the June 2021 survey.
  • 64% of respondents felt that border closures are unnecessary and have not been effective in containing the virus (up 11 percentage points from June 2021).
  • 73% responded that their quality of life was deteriorating due to Covid-19 travel restrictions (up 6 percentage points from June 2021).

“People are growing increasingly frustrated with Covid-19 travel restrictions and even more have seen their quality of life suffer. They don’t see the need for travel restrictions to control the virus. And they’ve missed too many family moments, personal development opportunities and professional priorities. In short, they lack the freedom to steal and they want to restore it. The message they send to governments is: Covid-19 is not going away, so we need to establish a way to manage its risks while living and traveling normally,” Walsh said.

Support rises for testing or vaccination to replace quarantine

The main obstacle to air transport remains quarantine measures. 84% of respondents indicated that they would not travel if there was a risk of quarantine at their destination. A growing proportion of respondents support lifting the quarantine if:

  • One person tested negative for Covid-19 (73% in September compared to 67% in June)
  • One person was vaccinated (71% in September against 68% in June).

As vaccination rates increase globally, 80% of respondents agree that vaccinated people should be able to travel freely by air. However, there were strong opinions against making vaccination a condition for air travel. About two-thirds felt it was morally wrong to restrict travel to only those who had been vaccinated. More than 80% of respondents believe that screening before air travel should be an alternative for people who do not have access to vaccination.

While 85% are ready to be tested if needed as part of the travel process, several issues remain:

  • 75% of respondents indicated that the cost of testing is a significant barrier to travel.
  • 80% think governments should bear the cost of testing.
  • 77% see the inconvenience of testing as a barrier to travel.
The IATA Travel Pass has proven to be an effective tool in managing the complex mess of travel health credentials required by governments, says Willie Walsh.

“There is a message here for governments. People are willing to be tested for travel. But they don’t like the cost or the inconvenience. Both can be handled by governments. The reliability of rapid antigen tests is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). Wider acceptance of antigen testing by governments would reduce inconvenience and cost – costs which, according to the WHO’s International Health Regulations, should be borne by governments. It’s also clear that while people accept testing and other measures such as wearing masks when necessary, they want to return to more normal means of transport when it’s safe,” Walsh said.

Great confidence with travel experience, struggling with Covid-19 rules

Among those who have traveled since June 2020, 86% felt safe on board the flight thanks to the Covid-19 measures.

  • 87% think the protection measures are well implemented
  • 88% felt airline staff were doing a good job enforcing the Covid-19 rule

Wearing masks is also strongly supported, with 87% of respondents agreeing that it will prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With more markets starting to open up for travel, one area that needs to be addressed is Covid-related travel rules and requirements.

  • 73% of those who have traveled since June 2020 found it difficult to understand which rules applied to a trip (compared to 70% in June).
  • 73% felt Covid-19 paperwork was difficult to organize (also up from 70% in June)

“People want to travel. 86% expect to travel within six months of the end of the crisis. With Covid-19 becoming rampant, vaccines widely available and therapeutics rapidly improving, we are fast approaching that moment. People also tell us that they are confident to travel. But what those who have traveled tell us is that the rules are too complex and the paperwork too cumbersome. To ensure recovery, governments must simplify processes, restore the freedom to travel, and adopt digital solutions to issue and manage travel credentials,” Walsh said.

See the presentation of the air transport response to Covid-19 (PDF)

Image credit: IATA

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