The recovery of the global aviation sector from the COVID-19 pandemic could be hampered by confusing health requirements and fears that the sector is not prepared for another public health crisis, according to an international survey.
The survey was conducted ahead of the Future Aviation Forum, a global aviation summit taking place in Riyadh, 9th-11th May. It was carried out in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the Gulf countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. While results vary from county-to-country, the study reveals widespread confusion around the patchwork of existing health requirements for air travel. Around a third of people in every country surveyed say that the lack of clarity around health requirements stopped them from flying last year and will keep them from flying in 2022.
“There is a clear need for countries to work together to harmonize health requirements for passengers. For the global aviation sector to make a full and speedy recovery, it is essential that we improve clarity around current requirements and build confidence in the sector’s ability to handle future public health crises,” said His Excellency Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Transport and Logistics.
The Future Aviation Forum will bring together leaders from the public and business sectors, international CEOs, and regulators to shape the evolution of international air travel and drive forward solutions in a post-pandemic world. It will feature more than 120 speakers, with over 2,000 attendees and representatives from every continent expected to attend. Delegates are invited to attend 40 sessions, focusing on three core thematic pillars: passenger experience, sustainability, and business recovery post-Covid.
His Excellency Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), said that ahead of the Forum GACA is consulting stakeholders on developing a policy to future-proof the sector against future health crises.
“COVID-19 has severely impacted air traffic and passenger travel across the globe and has had a chilling impact on the growth prospects for the global aviation sector. With passenger traffic not expected to return to pre-2019 levels until 2024, we need to find ways to harmonize health information protocols, to enhance information sharing and transparency among countries, to protect the health and safety of passengers, and to restore passenger trust – these are some of the fundamental challenges we will tackle at the Future Aviation Forum,” said His Excellency Al-Duailej.
The survey finds that opinion is divided in terms of whether countries worked together to facilitate ease of travel during the pandemic. Majorities of people in the Gulf (73%) and Italy (59%) think they did, whilst most people in the US (56%) and Britain (70%) say they did not.
In terms of whether the aviation sector is prepared for another public health crisis, only a majority of people in the Gulf (64%) are confident it is, whilst respondents in the other surveyed countries are divided. More than a third of people in the UK, and a quarter of people in the US and Italy say airports and airlines are not prepared for the next public health crisis.