Airlines across the globe are grounding large percentages of their fleets—American Airlines alone will be reducing flights abroad by 75% through May of 2021—which will collectively result in millions of canceled flights for the foreseeable future. Starting March 16, 2020, Premise surveyed 7,350 Americans (and counting) to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel sentiment. In addition, we asked when people think it will be safe enough to start flying again, which airlines are doing enough to help during the Coronavirus outbreak and concerns with airline travel today.
When do Americans think it will be safe to travel by airplane? Over a third (35%) think it will be at least a year—or never!—before it will be safe to travel by air. Right now, just shy of two-thirds (63%) feel it’s not safe to travel anywhere by airplane in the next two weeks and half of those surveyed believe contracting COVID-19 is the current top safety concern for air travel.
It should be concerning to airline management and industry trade groups that the public doesn’t know if airlines are actively doing enough to help through the COVID-19 crisis. When asked which airline is doing enough to help, an overwhelming number of respondents selected Unsure. Aeromexico captured the top spot of North American airlines that are responding sufficiently to the Coronavirus crisis according to our respondents.
It’s possible that airlines are doing what the public expects of them, like increasing cleaning standards—United Airlines is wiping down all touchpoints on their aircraft between flights. According to our survey respondents, they feel that official statements are the lowest source of news impacting their opinion on air travel safety, even beating out by posts on social media and word-of-mouth stories, which is potentially why official messages from airlines are being lost.
Airlines should take note: the public can’t hear your message! Find more effective ways to let the public know the measures being taken to lessen the exposure to passengers and the fears of the 50% whose top concern is COVID-19.
So, what’s it going to take for airlines to regain the trust of the American flying public in light of COVID-19? Right now, half (51%) don’t believe or aren’t sure if airlines are doing enough to keep them safe. Here’s are the top five actions airlines should take to regain the trust of that 50%:
Premise is expanding the same set of questions to better understand flying experience, safety and airline sentiment of respondents across our networks throughout Latin American countries and the rest of North America providing a hemispheric set of data on COVID-19 impacts on the airline industry.
As the weeks pass and more respondents report on air travel sentiment during the Coronavirus outbreak, I’m curious if Unsure will retain the top spot of the airline that’s doing enough to help and will airlines start to implement the additional measures, like instituting medical and safety checks on all passengers before boarding, improve their public perception?
Follow along as we collect more data on this and other topics at www.premise.com/COVID-19. If you’re interested in learning how Premise could help your organization get real-time insight around the globe during this challenging time email us at firstname.lastname@example.org