Air travel safest mode in BD now, but needs restoration of flyers’ confidence

_A Monitor Special01 Sep, 2020 | 619 Views|-+
Dhaka : In Bangladesh, air travel is considered to be the safest mode of transportation. But restoration of the confidence of air travellers, is now the biggest challenge for the airlines.

This was revealed in a consumer survey, conducted by The Bangladesh Monitor--the premier travel and tourism publication of the country.

The survey was participated by 3,452 travellers between September 01 and 25. Of them 26 per cent were in 20-30 age group; 22 per cent were in 31-40; 20 per cent were in 41-50 age group and 18 per cent were in 51-60 age group. While the rest are above 60 years of age. Of the total respondents 87 per cent are from Business profession; 10 per cent service and 03 per cent are students.

Amid the ongoing pandemic, 66.7 per cent respondents felt that air travel is the safest, while 23.3 per cent opted for rail transportation and 10.1 per cent considered surface transportation.

On the question concerning challenges for airlines 37.7 per cent felt that under the prevailing situation, restoration of passengers' confidence is the biggest challenge for the airlines, 33.5 per cent felt maintaining health and hygiene, while 28.8 per cent think travel restrictions in place, is the challenge.

A majority of 49.9 per cent respondents felt that the biggest concern of air travel in Bangladesh at this moment is the high cost, while 31.4 per cent consider personal safety and 18.7 per cent considered protocols at the airports as the major concern.

A 57 per cent travellers felt that the health and hygiene standard of the local airlines are satisfactory; while 30.7 per cent considered it not so well and the rest 12.3 per cent termed it as perfect.

As regards to purpose of air travel within the country, 35.8 per cent respondents said they would travel for business purpose only at this time, while 30.5 per cent for leisure and 33.7 per cent for family purpose. Among the regular travellers in the domestic sectors, 32.9 per cent have already undertaken a travel, while 41.6 per cent consider travelling in next three months. However, 25.5 per cent people will not take a travel within this year.

In case of international travel, a 53.5 per cent of the respondents will travel for the purpose of holiday at this moment, while 29.4 per cent for business and 17.1 per cent for medical purpose.

A 59.7 per cent holidays seekers prefer to make their dream holidays in the countries of Asia in a post COVID situation, while 32.1 per cent in Europe and 8.2 per cent in Americas.

With 39.5 per cent votes, India has been considered as the preferred medical destination, Thailand was favoured by 31.7 per cent and Singapore 28.7 per cent.

In response to a question on how soon they plan to undertake an international trip, 47.1 per cent said they will not plan a trip unless an effective vaccine is found and 43.4 per cent, said they may do in next three months, while 9.6 per cent have already made a travel.

As regards to the purchase of air tickets, 68.3 per cent respondents said they would buy their tickets through an online travel agency (OTA), 22.5 per cent preferred a traditional travel agency, while 9.3 per cent directly from the Airline.

Current situation

Along with global aviation, the situation in Bangladesh has also become very uncertain due to COVID-19 pandemic. The efforts of the whole aviation and airline industries are directed to survive this calamity.

Similar to other countries in the world, aviation in Bangladesh is trying to recover from the adverse impact of the situation. Since the resumption of scheduled passenger flights in June, the aviation industry of Bangladesh is slowly but surely recovering from the devastating effects. Domestic sectors have by now achieved about 60 per cent normal. But international sectors’ normalisation is moving slowly, mainly due to travel restrictions still in place in many countries.

According to industry stake holders, it will take a while, at least till 2024, for the capacity to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Right now, Emirates, Qatar, Turkish and some other airlines are gradually adjusting their flight frequencies according to the COVID-19 situation. The airlines resumed with two weekly flights, currently operating seven flights to and from Dhaka. It is expected that in six months, the market will see more significant developments. Meanwhile, Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman, Chairman, CAAB, in an interview with The Bangladesh Monitor said that CAAB is trying to restore all direct air services by December this year.

In the domestic sectors, both US-Bangla and NOVOAIR have also increased their flight frequencies since the resumption of flights. Currently the carriers are operating flights to all the domestic airports of Bangladesh and witnessing month-on-month growth in domestic passenger movements since June. If this continues, it might be able to reach pre-pandemic levels by this winter.

Cargo operations, on the other hand, have been a significant booster of revenue, even during the early stages of the pandemic in the country when passenger flights were suspended. All the major international carriers have operated significant number of schedule and charter freighter services and transported full load of export cargo.

Since April, a number of airlines-including Biman and US-Bangla-have been operating cargo flights with their passenger aircraft to several destinations including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Kolkata.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi private airlines with a view to survive this unprecedented crisis, urged the government to waive the several aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges, as well as to reduce various tax structures on airline imports, which are comparatively much higher in Bangladesh from other regional countries. The cost of jet fuel is another important cost that need to be reduced, as it alone covers 40 per cent of the total operational costs.

The future of aviation and airline industries now largely depends on the travel restrictions imposed by different countries, operational directives set by the government authorities and the fluctuation of affected COVID-19 cases in the destinations they operate in.

Amidst all these challenges however, the way the aviation industry of Bangladesh is slowly progressing and seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

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