Complicated travel rules are the real killer to aviation, not virus, say experts

Published: 14 October 2020 - 11 a.m.
By: Josh Corder
The complicated and often conflicting set of guidelines around air travel right now are a bigger threat to aviation than the coronavirus itself.

That is according to a group of Middle East aviation experts, who say hassle around travel is a greater blow to passenger confidence than the virus.

Speaking at sister title Aviation Business’ recent roundtable, experts have again called on governments to standardise travel rules across the globe.

“People are not generally scared of the virus. People are worried about their journey and complications and this should be the focus of efforts to restore confidence in air travel,” said Laila Hareb Almheiri, CEO of Alive Group.

Customers “are desperate to travel”, Almheiri said. “It is the complexity of and lack of smoothness in their journey and that is why governments should really have a consistent framework for infection control. What we need again is a framework for biosecurity endorsed by the WHO.

“When I travel now and I visit multiple countries I have to first find out what restrictions there are at each country I plan to visit and it’s so confusing. I am very confident in Emirates Airline, there is no issue there, but why don’t I want to travel?

“It’s because I don’t know enough about the PCR test requirements, results timings, forms to fill in, quarantines; the list goes on. For me, it’s not the price or the confidence in my airline, it’s the process of travel, which is the most important thing right now to address.”

Bernie Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, agreed that the main issue impacting passenger confidence is no longer the fear of the virus.

“Six months into this pandemic and people are pretty confident they’re very unlikely to catch COVID inside an aeroplane,” he said. “It’s all about the hassle of travelling from one location to another, and that’s where consistency comes in.”

The insights come as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data suggesting just 44 cases of the virus among 1.2bn travellers have come about due to air travel.

If true, that would mean the chance of contracting the respiratory disease on board a flight id approximately one in 27 million.

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