Collinson and CAPA Report Expects Travel to Resume to Pre-COVID Levels After 2023

Press Release

Can the industry survive the wait?

  • A new Collinson and CAPA – Centre for Aviation (CAPA) survey of C-Suite travel industry insiders says a return to ‘normal’ is unlikely before 2023.
  • Over half of travel experts surveyed (51%) expect that robust testing protocols will remain key to reopening global borders until end of 2022.
  • Widespread fears of fraudulent tests and vaccine passports may undermine use.

As travellers in Asia long for the resumption of global travel, new research from Collinson, a global leader in traveller experiences and medical assistance, has pinpointed some key potential issues based on an in-depth survey of travel industry experts.

While most travel experts (89%) believe that it is safe to travel, they are pessimistic about the industry’s recovery – whether due to the policies being put in place, wider perceptions of safety, or both. The data highlights that 31% of respondents in Asia Pacific expect travel to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023, closely followed by 2024 at 25%, and late 2022 with 17%.

The survey was carried out in April 2021 by Collinson in partnership with CAPA – one of the world’s most trusted sources of market intelligence for the aviation and travel industry – to capture a snapshot of the opinions of a specially-selected group of over 330 C-Suite and senior managerial level travel experts globally from leading travel industry brands.

The quest for herd immunity continues – but inequality hurts everyone

Most travel experts in Asia Pacific surveyed overwhelmingly believe that it is now safe to travel – with 11% saying it is “extremely safe” and 30% saying it is “quite safe”, with a further 48% saying it is “extremely safe provided preventative solutions are adhered to”. However, over half (56%) are “very concerned” at reports of fraudulent COVID-19 test results and vaccination passports.

Global herd immunity is a key driver of the return to normality; and yet, because of public resistance to the vaccine in certain locations, coupled with vaccine inequality – this will take a considerably long time.

When asked what they thought was the most plausible scenario by 2022, 30% of experts in Asia Pacific believed herd immunity would be reached in the US, UK and a select few developed nations. By contrast, 27% believed a handful of smaller nations would do so, with the rest of the world including the US and the UK failing to do so. Only 16% believed that most countries in the developed world would achieve herd immunity by next year.

Leisure and shorter-haul travel more likely to recover sooner

A high number of respondents believed that leisure travel would recover significantly faster than business travel, while in both categories, shorter-haul flights will make a faster comeback.

When asked to select the most plausible scenario in 2022 for the recovery of leisure travel, 27% of respondents in Asia say they expect 41-60% of 2019 levels next year. With that in mind, members of the travel ecosystem should continue to prioritise the mental and physical wellbeing of travellers by ensuring there are spaces for them to de-stress and relax during their journey. 

Meanwhile, the outlook for business travel markets is weaker than leisure. For short-haul flights, 31% expect to see 41-60% of 2019 levels next year – while 35% of respondents expect long-haul business travel in 2022 will be only 20-40% of 2019 levels.

Despite business travel projecting a slower recovery than leisure travel, companies should act now to equip their employees with the necessary tools for a safe return to global travel, including robust travel-risk management policies.

Quarantine measures expected to ease due to testing, but with mixed market access

Most Asia Pacific respondents (51%) expect that robust testing protocols will remain key to reopening global borders until end of 2022. Almost one-third (32%) of respondents believe robust testing protocols will remain key for the next 3 years, while just 13% expect testing will be phased out in 2021 in line with the vaccine roll-out.

As such, almost half (49%) of Asia Pacific respondents believe quarantine measures will be phased out by 2022, with a further 11% expecting quarantine measures to be lifted by mid-2021. Yet 30% still believe quarantine measures will remain in place beyond 2021.

Most Asia Pacific respondents (58%) expect aviation market access arrangements by governments to evolve at different rates, depending on the region/market through 2021. Over a quarter (27%) expect aviation market access arrangement by governments to ‘remain the same until at least 2022’, while only 5% expect access arrangements to ‘substantially ease’ or even just ‘start to ease’ as we go through 2021. It is therefore critical for governments and members of the travel ecosystem to come together and collaborate for the safe return of global travel. 

Vaccine passports of ‘vital importance’ – but fears over fraud need to be addressed

Asia Pacific respondents overwhelmingly (75%) shared the view that vaccine passports were of “vital importance”, as governments won’t re-open borders without them. Meanwhile only 18% said they were “not important”, as some governments will allow access regardless of digital health documents. A further 7% said they were “not relevant” compared to other issues, such as mutual recognition of vaccines.

Asia Pacific respondents were also overwhelmingly (76%) concerned by reports of fraudulent COVID-19 test results and vaccination passports surfacing, with only 6% saying they were “not concerned”.

In light of this, Collinson is supporting the development of accredited testing solutions, along with Verifly, CommonPass and IATA, including the piloting of digital health passports aimed at reducing the chance of fraudulent activity – while expediting the safe return of global travel.

“The global travel recovery won’t be immediate, but we do have the unique opportunity to make things better than ever before by working together to evolve current practices,” said Todd Handcock, Asia Pacific President for Collinson. “This joint research with CAPA has helped shine a light on the areas that require immediate, combined focus and effort from government bodies and private organisations – particularly those in the travel ecosystem – in order to remove remaining barriers and help achieve the safe, long-term return of global travel.”

CAPA - Centre for Aviation Managing Director, Derek Sadubin, said: “We are delighted to be working with Collinson, a global leader in traveller experiences, to better understand how the aviation and travel market is rapidly evolving. Surveying the viewers of CAPA Live, now the biggest virtual aviation conference in the world, always yields fascinating insights. This is a high-level, savvy and switched-on group of aviation and travel industry professionals, so their views carry weight”.

For more information on the Collinson and CAPA survey findings, you can download the full Asia Pacific Travel Recovery Report here

About the Research

From 7 April 2021 to 30 April 2021, CAPA surveyed participants in its virtual monthly event series, CAPA Live, receiving 331 survey responses (n=331) from 64 locations with the majority coming from Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, India, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Respondents were a mix of C-Suite, executives and senior managers from airlines, airports and aviation suppliers.   

About Collinson

Collinson is a global leader in the provision of traveller experiences including airport lounge access and medical and security assistance and travel medical services. Collinson’s traveller experiences include the world’s leading airport lounge and experiences programme, Priority Pass, as well as travel insurance, identity assistance, flight delay, international health and travel risk management solutions.

Collinson has over 2,000 employees operating out of 20 locations globally, all working to deliver a broad range of traveller experiences that ensure the safety, welfare and comfort of 55 million people as they travel for business and leisure around the world. Its travel medical and security assistance business unit has more than 55 years’ experience in the delivery of international medical assistance and emergency care, including the handling of pandemics such as Ebola, Zika and the coronavirus. Last year alone, Collinson responded to over 95,000 emergency calls, managed over 40,000 medical cases and conducted over 3,000 aero-medical evacuations across the 170 countries it serves. We work with clients including: American Express, Cathay Pacific, CBA, Mastercard, UnionPay and Visa.

About CAPA – Centre for Aviation

CAPA - Centre for Aviation (CAPA), part of Aviation Week Network, is the leading provider of independent aviation market intelligence, analysis and data services covering worldwide developments. Established in 1990, CAPA’s platforms help the aviation sector and supplier businesses stay informed, remain connected to industry leaders and fuel inspiration to drive change. CAPA’s global C-level and corporate travel in-person and virtual Summits and Masterclasses attract executive level speakers, attendees and leading stakeholders of the global commercial aviation industry. Understanding aviation markets is our great strength and passion, along with providing CAPA members, clients and partners with an unparalleled level of expertise and insight. For more information and details on membership and events, please visit centreforaviation.com.

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Annaliese Vella
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CAPA  - Centre for Aviation