Iata DG and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac

Public opinion research conducted by Iata in the first week of June found that there was greater caution among travellers about returning to travel than there was in April.

Only 45% of those surveyed intend to return to the skies within a few months of the pandemic subsiding (in April this was 61%) and 36% said they would wait six months (21% in April).

Iata’s key passenger trends confirm ongoing market uncertainty. Overall bookings are down 82% year-on-year compared with June 2019. Long-haul forward bookings for the first week in November 2020 are 59% below normal levels.

This cautious approach by passengers is seen with more bookings closer to the time of travel. Of bookings made in May this year, 29% were for travel 20 days or more in the future, whereas in May 2019, this figure was 49%. Similarly, 41% of bookings made in May 2020 were for travel within three days, more than double May 2019 figures at 18%.

“People are returning to the skies but the horizon of uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis is extending. Forward bookings are down, and people are hedging their travel bets by booking closer to the time of travel. Airlines will need much more flexibility to plan schedules around these changing consumer trends,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata DG and CEO.