Insights from more than 10,000 passengers reveal that demand for flights is returning but rebuilding passenger confidence requires consistent global safety protocols and digital technology that minimise touchpoints.
In total, 60% say they would happily take to the skies by the end of the year (compared to only 47% last year), with air passengers in Greece the most confident about flying with an airline today (29%), followed by Australians and Brazilians (both 20%). The study also showed that taking a flight improves the confidence of airline passengers towards health and safety issues by 20%, showing that the experience of flying is very reassuring.
These are some of the findings of Inmarsat’s Passenger Confidence Tracker 2021, the largest and most comprehensive global survey of airline passengers since the pandemic began.
The number of passengers who expect to travel less frequently has dropped by 6% in comparison to Inmarsat’s 2020 Passenger Confidence Tracker. However, with 84% of respondents believing their travel habits are likely to change post pandemic, the onus is firmly on airlines to ensure their service offering keeps pace with the evolving requirements of passengers.
Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “There is no denying that the past 18 months has been a turbulent time for airlines and passengers alike. However, the latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show that demand for both international and domestic travel is gaining significant momentum. In order to maintain and even accelerate this growth, it’s essential to rebuild passenger confidence and ensure their evolving needs are met in a post COVID world.
“Our latest Passenger Confidence Tracker, the largest global survey that Inmarsat Aviation has ever commissioned, offers detailed insights into the main areas of confidence and concern around air travel, direct from the passengers themselves. Such findings will allow airlines to increase their focus on key priorities and seize the exciting opportunities ahead as the industry continues its long-term recovery.”
Following the pandemic, the passenger service experience was regarded as the most important factor when it comes to the enjoyment of a flight globally (46%), with the highest responses coming from India (67%), Brazil (67%), Indonesia (59%) and China (57%).
The survey also indicates that greater importance should be placed on customer experience, because interacting with airline personnel was seen to help instill the most confidence for passengers during a flight. This made passengers the most confident in Mexico (55%), the US (51%), UAE (50%), Brazil (49%), Greece (42%), Canada (41%), Australia (39%) and the UK (36%).
While onboard, digital technology helps to improve confidence by keeping passengers connected and minimising their contact with others, including cabin crew and fellow passengers. In addition, 41% of respondents believed in-flight Wi-Fi had increased in importance after the pandemic, compared to 30% for in-flight entertainment. In-flight Wi-Fi was the most important factor for the US (55%) and Canada (41%).
“A digital transformation was already underway in the aviation industry, but the pandemic has undoubtedly fast-tracked its implementation,” added Balaam. “As the trusted connectivity provider for airlines throughout the world, Inmarsat has experienced higher passenger usage for our inflight broadband solutions compared to pre-COVID levels, showing the desire to stay connected has only amplified. Airlines are also embracing innovating new ways to enhance their onboard experience using connectivity, with a major focus on touchless experiences in keeping with today’s passenger expectations.”
The study also reveals that factors such as region and age influence the individual preferences of passengers. In the Americas, passengers report that in-flight Wi-Fi, the passenger service experience and in-flight entertainment are more important now than before the pandemic. In comparison, passengers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) consider free baggage and extra legroom as more important.
For further insights from Inmarsat’s 2021 Passenger Confidence Tracker, download the full report here.
The ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’ is a global survey of airline passenger attitudes in light of COVID-19, commissioned by Inmarsat and carried out by market research company Yonder. It is the largest known global passenger survey since the outbreak of the pandemic. Yonder conducted an online sample of 10,110 online interviews among respondents who have taken a flight for leisure or business in the last 24 months. Invitations were sent out on a nationally representative basis. Respondents were surveyed across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, UAE, the UK and the US.