When will we be allowed to travel?
Some experts predict that travel will return this summer, while others think it could be years, what’s clear is that there really is no way to accurately predict this until COVID-19 is under control.
And what does getting it “under control” even mean? Well, it may require us flattening the curve while enacting wide spread contact tracing to continually contain the virus, but it could also mean waiting for a vaccine. Learning about how different governments plan to end their respective lockdowns will give us a lot of insight into when travel will start up once again. All of this will hinge on advice from the CDC and WHO.
Right now, most stay at home orders go till at least May and in many countries they go through June. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, cautiously thinks that travel in the summer “can be in the cards” as long as the curve continues to flatten globally.
In line with this thinking, predictive models developed by the travel risk assessment team of G1G.com, an insurance technology company based in San Jose, suggest that travel won’t commence for at least another 3 months. Additionally, insurance purchases can also indicate travel patterns and right now some insurance companies are seeing policies being taken for travel after August 1st. Moreover, when travel does commence it’ll likely start with business travel, and about 40 percent of companies predict corporate travel will resume within the next three months, according to a new lighting poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association.
Again, this is all contingent on countries being able to end lockdowns and lift travel restrictions. It could potentially be much longer than three months if countries aren’t able to slow the spread of the virus immediately. However, if they do, we’ll likely see governments lifting domestic lockdowns before reopening borders, making domestic travel a possibility before international travel.
When will people want to travel?
When domestic travel does open up, road trips will likely be the initial means of transportation for most travellers, airplanes will come later. People will be weary of airports and airplanes for some time as they try to adjust to life in a post-coronavirus world.
Recently, a Harris Poll asked Americans a series of questions which gauged their willingness to travel after the curve is flattened. According to the poll “One fifth of Americans (21%) say they will stay in a hotel within a month, with the figure rising to 41% within three months and 60% within six months”.
For airlines, only 15% of Americans say that they’ll fly within one month of the situation being under control. (31% say they’ll fly within three months and nearly half think they’ll be ready to fly after six months.
Some think it may take even longer for travellers to regain confidence. According to global travel specialists Atmosphere Research Group, normal travel may not resume until 2023.
They predict that the first 6-9 months of travel after the pandemic will see some business travellers, but will mostly consist of educated leisure travellers from high income groups vacationing domestically.
They think that in months 8-16 more business travellers, as well as mid-to high-tier frequent flyers, with household incomes of more than $125,000 USD, will venture out on mainly long-range international flights.
From 12-18 months they think that the industry will see 'near-normal volumes of business travellers' aligned with strong bookings for the premium cabins of business and first class. Late 2022, then, is when business travel will largely be back to normal.
And finally months 16-24 will see 80-90% of pre-virus leisure volume, while at 24+ months Atmosphere expects travel to be "at or above pre-virus traffic".