Yesterday, Vistara shared the results of a passenger survey, which threw up some interesting results. One of the most eye-catching data points was an apparent willingness for air travel to come back soon, in a big way.

Passengers keen to fly again, poll finds

Vistara’s customer survey was conducted online between June 8 and 14, covering “various demographics” of its customer base. Nearly 6,000 people took part, including both Club Vistara members and those who aren’t in the airline’s frequent flyer club.

The majority of respondents were salaried professionals and self-employed/business owners, with the results analysed “in-house by a team of qualified professionals”.

Part of the survey addressed how enthusiastic travellers are about flying again. In terms of domestic travel, 68% of business travellers said they are likely to maintain the frequency of their travel (compared to the previous year) or take more flights. The remainder, 32%, said they may reduce such flights.

Sticking with the domestic market, 60% of leisure travellers and those visiting friends and relatives said they would either maintain the same frequency of flights or increase, while 40% expected to reduce their travel.

If, like me, you thought those figures were a bit on the optimistic side, you might be surprised to see that the figures for international travel are even more positive.

74% of business travellers suggested they are likely to fly the same number of times internationally as the previous year or increase their travel for business (while the remainder may reduce).

In terms of leisure travel, 65% of the respondents indicated they would maintain or increase the number of international trips they plan to take, (which once again means that the remainder may reduce).

When to fly, and why?

65% of respondents expected to take their next Vistara flight within the next six months, while 57% of the Club Vistara elite members (Platinum and Gold tier) said they would fly within the next month.

Business travel emerged to be the biggest reason for travel (35%), followed by visiting friends and relatives (25%). Commenting on the survey results, Vinod Kannan, Vistara’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“To travel is an innate human need and evidently, customers are looking forward to their upcoming travels. Our customer survey validates this, and we expect demand for air travel to soon return in a graded manner. This finding gives new energy to our plans of growth and expansion in months ahead.”

A hint at Vistara’s next international destinations?

Having recently taken delivery of its first long haul aircraft, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Vistara is yet to announce the long-haul destinations it plans to serve. Although it is working with Boeing to delay the arrival of some new wide-body jets, Vistara is expected to receive a second Dreamliner soon.

The airline’s survey found 20% of respondents were planning to take their next flight to a destination outside of India. Singapore, the United Kingdom and Dubai were named most often as the destinations passengers would like to fly to, followed by the United States and Thailand. On that score, Vistara said:

“Three of these five international destinations are already part of Vistara’s international network, which the airline plans to expand to other countries in and outside the continent as it inducts new narrow-body and wide-body aircraft.”

The three destinations referred to (those already served) are Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok. Could Vistara flights to the UK or US follow soon?

Passengers’ biggest fears about flying again

Vistara’s survey found passengers have three major concerns when it comes to flying during an epidemic. In order of prominence, they are:

  • The fear of exposure through the journey.
  • Fellow passengers not following health and safety protocols.
  • Higher fares.

In an attempt to reassure passengers, Vistara says:

“The airline regularly conducts health checks of its crew members, has significantly reduced contact between its crew and customers, temporarily discontinued in-flight meals, onboard sales, reading material etc. to safeguard health and safety of passengers and staff in the ongoing pandemic. With an intensified aircraft cleaning procedure, Vistara disinfects and sanitizes all its aircraft before every take off and performs deep cleaning every 24 hours. Powerful, in-built air filtration systems on all of Vistara’s aircraft ensure elimination of viruses and bacteria to refresh the cabin air every 2-3 minutes.”

Summing up

I wasn’t expecting to see such strong demand for air travel, as expressed by the respondents of Vistara’s survey, particularly as international travel was rated more likely than domestic travel. That seems a little at odds to the current situation, where internal travel is only just starting to open again following coronavirus.

If it’s true, good luck to Vistara - and we look forward to hearing more about the airline’s plans for its long-haul, Boeing 787 Dreamliner operations.

Are you surprised by the sentiment expressed in Vistara’s survey? Are you keen to fly again?