Commercial airline passengers still apprehensive about flying in 2022, global survey warns

Some 46 percent of Gulf residents say confusing health regulations will prevent them from flying in 2022 (Shutterstock)
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  • Aviation sector on shaky ground due to unclear travel health requirements
  • Concerns come despite despite $246bn in projected travel and tourism profit in the Middle East

RIYADH: Despite optimistic tourism forecasts in the Middle East, a survey conducted by YouGov preceding the Future Aviation Forum revealed widespread misunderstanding about air travel health regulations that may affect the aviation industry.

The study revealed that 46 percent of Gulf residents, 32 percent of Americans, 40 percent of Italians, and 40 percent of Brits, believe that confusing health regulations will prevent them from flying in 2022, a highly negative indicator for the sector’s recovery.

In addition, 68 percent of individuals in the Gulf, 46 percent of respondents in the US, 61 percent of people in Italy, and 65 percent of people in the UK opted not to travel in 2021 because of these same confusions.

The survey took place in the US, the UK, Italy, and the Gulf countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The apprehension comes despite the World Travel and Tourism Council forecasting that the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector profits could reach $246 billion in 2022.

Last month, Saudi Tourism Board CEO Fahd Hamidaddin revealed that the Kingdom expected a 150 percent growth in inbound tourism in the second quarter of this year.

A report published by FAF said Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation is establishing a strategy to future-proof the sector against possible upcoming health crises. 

“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,” Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of GACA, was cited as saying in the report.

In the FAF report, Saleh Bin Nasser Al-Jasser, the Kingdom’s minister of transport and logistics, said that the clarity around current travel requirements and the confidence in the sector’s ability to withstand a future health crisis are essential for the global aviation sector to recover swiftly.

Business recovery plans for the aviation industry will be one of the main subjects discussed at the FAF, taking place in Riyadh this month.

The event will predominantly host leaders, international CEOs, and regulators who will determine the future of international air travel and drive forward post-pandemic solutions.