Less Than Half of Travelers Would Fly Within Two Months After Coronavirus Threat Ends

Less than half of travelers said they are willing to fly within two months after the coronavirus and COVID-19 are no longer seen as a threat, according to a new poll.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) survey found that 45 percent of travelers said they would fly in that time frame, down from 60 percent in April, according to Bloomberg.

"If anything, consumers have actually got rather more cautious, and we have a majority saying now that they would wait more than six months before traveling....The survey is telling us that passengers are rather cautious," Brian Pearce, the association's chief economist, said in a press briefing Tuesday.

The new research also showed that airline bookings are down 82 percent from last year and that flights booked far in advance are near zero percent, with 41 percent of flights booked three days in advance, according to Bloomberg.

Earlier in June, the IATA reported that airline revenues are expected to fall 50 percent to $419 billion. Alexandre de Juniac, director general for the IATA, said in a June 9 press release this year "will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation."

"On average, every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses. It means that—based on an estimate of 2.2 billion passengers for 2020—airlines will lose $37.54 per passenger. That's why government financial relief was and remains crucial as airlines burn through cash," de Juniac said.

Air travelers remain fearful of contracting the coronavirus, both at their destinations and on flights. Some airlines have implemented rules on flights to help slow the spread of the virus, including telling customers to wear masks and limiting in-flight food and beverage services.

On Monday, American Airlines strengthened requirements for customers to wear face coverings, noting its "commitment to the safety and well-being of customers and team members."

"American, like other U.S. airlines, already requires customers to wear a face covering while on board aircraft," the airline said in a statement. "American already enforces this policy at the gate and will deny boarding to customers who don't comply. American now may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering. American made this change after working in conjunction with Airlines for America on an industrywide response."

Delta Air Lines stopped serving alcohol on March 25 and removed plastic cups and iced from its in-flight offerings. Passengers instead can receive bottled water, and they are allowed to bring their own food and beverages on board.

U.S. Airline Industry Struggles Through Turbulent Times
A jet comes in for landing at Los Angeles International Airport. A recent International Air Transport Association survey shows that only 45 percent of people are willing to travel within two months of coronavirus restrictions being lifted. David McNew/Getty