When will air travel be able to return to normal?

Around the world, airlines are feeling the impact of the pandemic. In the US, there has been a dramatic upheaval in the industry – and the damage is just as bad elsewhere.

So, will air travel ever be able to return to normal?

And if so, when?

At the moment, the predictions are on the pessimistic side. According to a report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), it may take until the year 2023 for things to return to normal.

What do the forecasts say?

The IATA is currently monitoring developments related to the coronavirus outbreak and working with the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control to make forecasts.

Quarantine measures are one of the key factors in the future of air travel, along with consumer confidence and, of course, money.

Before air travel can resume, first, domestic markets will need to reopen, followed by a gradual, phased reopening of international markets.

Passenger demand is currently 24% lower than it was last year. In the worst case scenario, lockdowns could be extended and this could delay the industry’s return further.

What about consumer confidence?

If airlines are going to get passengers on board, repairing consumer confidence is crucial. The IATA’s research found that 86% of travellers are concerned about travelling – and, in particular, about facing a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.

In addition, many travellers have faced cancellations in the last few months. Many are still waiting for refunds, and it’s unclear how long they will have to wait.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO says, “Major stimulus from governments combined with liquidity injections by central banks will boost the economic recovery once the pandemic is under control.”

“But rebuilding passenger confidence will take longer. And even then, individual and corporate travellers are likely to carefully manage travel spend and stay closer to home.”

“We need a solution for safe travel that addresses two challenges. It must give passengers the confidence to travel safely and without undue hassle. And it must give governments confidence that they are protected from importing the virus.”

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