Todd Handcock of Collinson Group during November’s CAPA Live virtual session Todd Handcock of Collinson Group during November’s CAPA Live virtual session

More ups and downs on way

Confidence levels amongst senior aviation managers and travel experts is edging slightly up, but there is still plenty of pessimism and uncertainty around – particularly in Asia-Pacific, according to research released at the CAPA Centre for Aviation Live sessions in November.

The Industry Pulse Survey undertaken in September by Collinson Group, in partnership with CAPA, revealed that 37% of respondents now expected a full recovery to 2019 levels in 2023. This was up from 31% in April.

Todd Handcock, president Asia-Pacific with Collinson, says 26% expect it to come earlier, in 2022, while just over a quarter of respondents don’t envisage pre-pandemic levels of travel until 2024 and less than 10% think we’ll be waiting until 2025.

Handcock says short haul leisure and VFR is still expected to lead the recovery, but that numbers are down.

‘In April 71% of respondents felt that short haul leisure travel would show a solid recovery (in 2022), but in September that number dropped to 60%.

‘In Asia-Pacific the mood is even more sombre, with only 53% expecting a recovery in 2022 to 2019 levels.

‘Unfortunately we are still looking at being first in, last out for Asia-Pacific.’

He says the confidence around business travel is lower. In APAC, 24% see short haul business travel recovering to more than 60% of the 2019 levels and only 8%think it will reach 80% of the pre-pandemic situation.

APAC, along with Africa, is also the most pessimistic when it comes to long haul business travel – 37% of respondents feel this sector will not reach 20% of 2019 levels in 2022.

In a separate session, Michael McCormick, co-founder and CEO of Travel Again, noted that the company’s latest research showed a definite feeling of confidence amongst travellers, particularly as vaccination rates rise.

‘Leisure is really leading the way, but the business travel index is creeping up too.’

He says only 8.8% of business respondents to the index said they were intending to travel less than before.

‘Almost two said they either already are or will travel as frequently in 2022 (as they did pre-pandemic). Others said they would be travelling in 2023. So I don’t expect any long-term real impact on business travel.’

Staying competitive will drive business travel recovery

Competition will ultimately drive the strong return of business travel, according to Michael McCormick of Travel Again LLC.

Presenting the latest findings of the Travel Again Index during CAPA Live this week, McCormick noted that business travel is likely to come back into budgets next year.

‘When your competitor is out there doing business again, and seeing customers that will drive you to the same. It is vital to relationships. After every crisis the recovery has happened that way and it will do that this time too.’

Travellers will look for ‘de-stress spaces’

Aviation and travel experts expect frequent travellers in the future to be looking for socially distanced spaces in which they can shake off extra stresses involved in flying.

The latest Industry Pulse Survey by Collinson Group shows that 87% of respondents say that some frequent flyers will have mental health issues associated with the conditions and demands of  ‘new travel’.

They say having access to spaces where they can segregate and relax will be a key factor in the airport and other travel experiences.

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