That’s added bad news
for carriers. Corporate travel can drive between 55% and 75% of profit for top airlines, although it may only account for as few as 10% of passengers, because business travelers are more likely to purchase higher class or refundable fares. Already airlines globally have let go of hundreds of thousands of staff. Industry losses are expected to top $84 billion in 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association.
For those whose reluctance to fly stems more from fear of infection, digital innovations will be key, Inmarsat’s study found. They include things like the ability to pre-order food for contactless catering, offering inflight entertainment via a personal device, contactless payment systems and facial recognition technology.
“Classic interaction points on the aircraft evolve over time and play a big role in making the inflight experience safer,” said Rogerson. “People are being thrust into this digital world, and they’re so used to being connected in this form on the ground.”
Unpredictable border closures and confusing safety protocols in different countries are another reason people aren’t keen on traveling, the survey found.
“There are many things that need to come together to make travel at the same scale we were seeing in 2019 possible,” said Rogerson. Governments will also need to play a big part in how large numbers of people coming through an airport can best be managed, he said.