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A new survey says that the COVID-19 pandemic has ‘drastically’ changed travel habits ‘forever’, with eight in 10 air passengers saying their travel habits will change as a result of COVID-19, and 41 per cent planning to travel less frequently by any means.

Fifty-eight per cent of passengers in India expect to travel less by any means in future, the survey revealed.

Inmarsat’s ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’ surveyed 9,500 airline passengers worldwide, revealing significant variance across the 12 countries surveyed when it comes to passengers’ confidence about flying in light of the pandemic.

Only a third (34 per cent) of passengers surveyed have taken a commercial flight since the pandemic began, and this appears to have sparked a shift in attitudes to flying. Four in ten passengers (41 per cent) expect to travel less by any means and a third (31 per cent) plan to fly less.

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The study reveals significant variance across the world when it comes to passenger confidence about flying in light of the pandemic. Hungarian and British fliers are most confident, with 26 per cent and 16 per cent respectively saying they would get on a flight today. Asian passengers are less so; over a third (35 per cent) of South Koreans expect not to fly again until COVID-19 disappears.

Despite this change, there are early signs that travellers are beginning to feel confident about flying again; almost half (47 per cent) expect to feel ready to fly within the next six months. This corresponds with a survey out last week from the Airports Council.

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The survey shows that travel confidence broadly correlates to levels of public concern about COVID-19. For example, South Koreans and Singaporeans are twice as likely to describe their behaviour in relation to the virus as ‘highly cautious’ than Britons.

Passengers are currently more fearful of catching the virus abroad than on the plane. In fact, many think they are at a greater health risk in other environments, such as the gym and public transport. Recent IATA research supports this, suggesting people are more likely to be struck by lightning than catch COVID-19 on a plane.

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While passengers largely feel confident at passport control, security and communicating with cabin crew, they are less comfortable visiting the toilet inflight, and being in close proximity with others.

Regarding personal safety, passengers have disregarded the automatic 14-day quarantine. Instead, the results show a desire for a consistent set of measures to make the journey safer – such as mandatory face coverings, or a 48-hour test before travel.
The countries surveyed were the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, Brazil, Hungary, Finland and Spain.