According to a recent GlobalData survey, on average 57% of global respondents agree that they have had to cancel international travel plans amid Covid-19. Meanwhile, 61% of respondents changed domestic travel plans. Flights and holidays have been cancelled as travel restrictions have brought global travel to a standstill. On average, 75% of Chinese travellers, the world’s largest source market, have cancelled international travel plans.

Media coverage around airline cancellation policies due to Covid-19 has been mostly negative, customers have often struggled to obtain refunds or travel vouchers for cancelled trips. In the US, the Department of Transport introduced mandatory ruling that refunds must be given for cancelled flights, however in Europe the rules are more relaxed and airlines have been issuing travel vouchers or waiving amendment fees for existing bookings.

Confidence amid Covid-19 is increasing, but airlines must adapt to a change in traveller priorities

According to a global COVID-19 GlobalData survey, respondents think that the Covid-19 pandemic will get better, rather than worse, in the next month. As lockdown measures in many countries are lifting, those who had cancelled travel plans will be itching to escape on holiday when it is safe to do so.

Although confidence is growing positively after an initial drop amid Covid-19, traveller priorities will change for any future bookings. Flexibility with reservations for air travel, accommodation and holidays will now be prominent for travelers. In most industries within the tourism sector, current Covid-19 cancellation policies are in place for any trip booked before restrictions were outlined, however limited security is offered for future bookings.

Paying a deposit for flights and then the remaining balance closer to the date of travel could be beneficial to airlines in order to increase traffic and interest in bookings. Waiving cancellation or changing fees to lower price fares will also be attractive to travellers, guaranteeing no money to be lost when booking a holiday, suiting recession-hit budgets. As the situation is changing every day and restrictions are being lifted and imposed, consumers are uncertain as to when travel will resume and will be attracted by flexibility.

Airlines will have to foot the bill for a kick-start in travel

Foregoing a former solid revenue stream from cancellation and change fees on lower fared flights may be cash burning for an airline to begin with, however it is necessary to revive the industry. Consumers will be unwilling to book flights with no security or refund policy and the global recovery period of the tourism sector will be further prolonged.

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