Nine out of ten individuals surveyed from the UAE will change their flying habits and routines even after the Covid-19 pandemic is over, according to the results of an extensive new global airline survey commissioned by Inmarsat.
Inmarsat’s ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’ is the largest global survey of air passengers since the coronavirus crisis began. It reflects the views and attitudes of 9,500 respondents from 12 countries across the world, including more than 500 UAE-based passengers, about the future of flying.
The research shows that UAE travellers are keen to return to the skies in the near future, but would do so more confidently if certain measures were applied along their travel and inflight journey.
Neale Faulkner, Inmarsat Aviation’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), says: “The findings from our ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’ suggest a significant shift in travel behaviour is underway, which is likely to reshape air travel for the long-term.”
“While UAE passengers are eager to return to travelling, the findings reveal their concerns around points of engagement and the inflight experience. This shows a clear opportunity for airlines to provide new digital services — from medical support to pre-ordered catering and contactless payment during the flight — to boost passenger confidence, while making sure health and safety needs can be fully met.”
After months of fast-changing travel restrictions, UAE passengers surveyed are now more concerned about having to quarantine than the risk of catching the virus on the plane or while abroad.
Passengers also cited concerns over unpredictable border closures while travelling, which might leave them unable to return to the UAE. This indicates that passengers are less concerned about the risk of flying but more so about their experience when abroad.
Other factors such as trust in airlines is also now front of mind for UAE travellers. Over a quarter of those surveyed said they would fly only with airlines they trust. Over half of total passengers (52%) say that reputation is now a more significant factor when choosing an airline than it was pre-pandemic.
These reasons give insight into why 32 per cent of UAE respondents surveyed expressed that they are likely to cut back on air travel. Sharing similar sentiments, a third (31%) of global respondents plan to fly less, with four in ten global passengers (41%) expecting to travel less overall by any means.
Another indicator of rising passenger confidence was also revealed; when it comes to perceptions about the risk of the virus in certain environments, almost half of UAE citizens and residents surveyed believe taking a flight poses no greater risk than visiting a gym/leisure centre or a restaurant/bar.