There is no doubt that air travel is struggling to recover from the global pandemic. Commercial air traffic plummeted in 2020 and as the industry strives to get back to normal, and has seen some hopeful signs, it may take longer than initially predicted. A recent Passenger Confidence Tracker 2021 update reported that 60 percent of passengers would be happy to fly again by the end of the year, which is an uptick from last year’s response of only 47 percent.
Inmarsat Aviation’s President Philp Balaam sees this as an indication that “while aviation isn’t out of the woods yet, there are enough reasons to feel optimistic about the future.”
Tapping into over 10,000 passengers worldwide, the Passenger Confidence Tracker is designed to help airlines better understand their customers’ expectations. This includes understanding passengers’ concerns as well as their expectations for future travel to be prepared when commercial air travel bounces back. Keeping the passenger experience in mind is critical to building trust. In fact, air travelers that have high passenger experiences offered by the airlines are likely to go back to the same airline with confidence. Airline reputation, especially in a crisis, will play a significant role in whether passengers feel comfortable returning.
Technology plays a key role in building this trust and reputation for both airlines and airports alike. Balaam noted that the pandemic played a role in accelerating the digital transformation in the aviation industry. Not only did it open the passenger’s eyes to how technology can be implemented to keep them informed, but it also offered new enhancements to improve the overall experience. “In-flight connectivity holds the key to enhance the onboard experience and improve confidence in the future.”
Extending beyond the onboard experience, connected technologies are playing a role before the passenger enters the airport.
According to the report, passengers who have flown since the start of the pandemic are now more confident in the health precautions taken by airports and airlines by 20 percent. Digital health passports are easing the burden on passengers and airlines to share health information by digitizing the process. At the airport, passengers are opting for contactless check-in, touch-free baggage check, and other services. Onboard the aircraft, in-flight connectivity enables contactless meal selection and service, mobile payments, and other improvements to make the journey touch-free.
Overall, Balaam believes that the Passenger Confidence Tracker offers airlines an inside look at passenger sentiments about the future of air travel, so that they have the tools to address concerns while boosting their own trust and reputation. “Such findings will allow airlines to increase their focus on key priorities and seize the exciting opportunities ahead as the industry continues its long-term recovery,” he concluded.