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Three quarters of Brits fear flying on aircraft grounded for more than a month

By Edward Robertson

Three quarters of the British public have expressed concerns about flying on aircraft that have been grounded for at least a month as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A new survey released by aviation analytics company Cirium shows that 75 per cent of Brits share these concerns which could prove problematic as, at the height of the pandemic, 63 per cent of global passenger aircraft were grounded.

The figure has since dropped to 32 per cent, although this means a total of 8,442 aircraft remain grounded globally while 17,928 have returned to service.

Despite their concerns about flying on aircraft returning to service, more than half (54 per cent) of the 2,105 British people questioned in February said they were keen to fly in the next 12 months.

This desire to travel soon is the strongest among people aged 18 to 34, with 76 per cent saying they are planning a trip.

Vaccination programmes around the world are considered the best way of restoring confidence in air travel, according to nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents with the same amount supporting the use of health passports as prerequisite for flying.

Interestingly, and despite being the first to be vaccinated, travellers aged 65 or over are the most supportive of the health passport scheme with 84 per cent backing the proposal.

On the other hand, quarantine measures, which currently mean a 10-day, self-funded isolation period in monitored hotels for anyone coming from a banned, red-list country, remain equally unpopular with just 28 per cent of those quizzed saying it would increase their likelihood of flying.

Cirium CEO Jeremy Bowen said: “Cirium’s survey results identify the British public’s appetite for travel. However, it’s clear that certain measures to restore travel confidence will be more successful than others, with vaccinations featuring at the top and ‘health passports’ another favourable option.

“It’s evident that people will travel if safety remains the top priority of airlines and airports. Bringing back travel is not just about easing travel restrictions, but also about rebuilding reassurance in flying safely in a world where Covid-19 still exists.”

He added some of this work will need to be undertaken by airports, as the survey revealed 48 per cent of respondents are planning on spending less time in the facilities prior to take off.

Bowen said to help overcome this statistic and restore confidence to travellers, both airports and airlines must highlight the extensive safety measures introduced since Covid-19 first struck, especially since 59 per cent of those questioned, they are now likely to use apps for a touchless travel experience.