Comment: Why Brits are not yet comfortable to travel by air

YouGov’s Eve Satkute Stewart says the data shows aviation must promote safety credentials

Last October, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) shared evidence of low incidence of inflight Covid-19 transmission.

At the time of research, only 44 cases had been thought to be associated with a flight journey, representing one for every 27 million travellers. However, half of the British public appear to be nervous flying again.

A recent YouGov poll reveals that 42% of British adults feel comfortable flying right now.

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This figure rises to 51% among those who typically travel by aircraft at least once a year (‘air travellers’). The main reasons of concern appear to be Covid-19 related.

Younger British adults aged 18-24 (59%) and 25-34 (48%) are significantly more likely to say they’re comfortable flying now compared to those aged 55 and over (36%).

Women are more likely than men to be skeptical of air travel at present.

People living in England have the highest confidence in travelling by air compared to consumers living in Wales or Scotland (43%, 31% and 36% respectively).

Also, those with a gross household income over £50,000 per year are more likely to be comfortable hopping on a flight.

What will help increase people’s confidence in air travel?

There are a few reasons people are not yet ready for air travel yet, and YouGov delved deeper to understand the factors behind the hesitation. We asked those who said they were not comfortable flying right now when they would feel safe enough to do so.

Nearly half of air travel sceptics say they’re waiting for when health experts declare it’s safe to travel by aircraft (48%). This is also the leading reason among 60% of air travellers who are not yet ready to fly.

Many are waiting for the destinations they plan to visit to reach a point where the risk of coronavirus transmission is minimal, while others are waiting until more people are vaccinated and the transmission of the virus is minimal.

It is worth noting that the government’s policy plays less of a role in how people perceive safety on aircraft and that leads us to believe that the aviation industry and Iata need to publicise more messages about the safety and cleanliness protocols on aircrafts and at the airports.

Separate YouGov research found that 31% of Brits were ‘very uncomfortable’ and 25% ‘fairly uncomfortable’ visiting an airport, while a third were comfortable doing so.

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