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Personal air travel expected to return faster than business travel Survey includes preferred airport safety measures, destinations

by Megan Segura | Aug 25, 2020

With COVID-19 severely affecting the airline industry, a new survey of 1,000+ Kansas Citians shows that, once the pandemic is resolved, personal travelers will go back to normal travel more quickly than business travelers. 

The survey was conducted by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Area Development Council, and the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City with assistance from the Kansas City Aviation Department. More than 1,000 people across a variety of industry sectors responded to the survey.  

“The KC Chamber’s Aviation Committee has been working closely with the KC Aviation Department, which wanted to know what air service travelers want most to be reinstated,” said Joe Reardon, president & CEO of the KC Chamber. “Our committee members were also interested in learning what travelers needed at both the current and future terminals to feel safe while traveling.” 

“Many sectors of the business community were able to quickly adapt and leverage technology in response to COVID-19, but there will always be aspects of business that require travel,” said Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. “Companies will continue to be cautious as they re-instate regular business travel, and the KC region’s central location and access to quick, non-stop flights create a safe and efficient experience.”

“The pandemic is changing how the business community is approaching air travel,” said Marc Hill, president of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City. “The timing of this survey allows us to incorporate aspects of the new normal in business travel into the design of the terminal in real time.” 

Among key findings:                                                                                                                                    

  • Short-term travel:  Of those who travel primarily for business, a strong majority (59.1 percent) said they have no plans to travel for the foreseeable future, and 34 percent said they will be traveling for business in the next 90 days or are already traveling.   

    Those who travel primarily for personal reasons are returning to air travel at slightly  faster rates: While nearly 47 percent said they have no plans for the foreseeable future, 40 percent say they’re planning to travel in the next 90 days or are already traveling. 

  • Air service:  Because of the pandemic, service to 20 cities from KCI has been suspended. According to the survey, both business and personal travelers want to see flights reinstated to San Francisco and Boston as their first and second priorities.  Business travelers listed service to New Orleans as their third priority, while personal travelers chose Cancun as their third choice. 
  • Safety at KCI:  Both business and personal travelers want to see required use of PPE (personal protective equipment), social distancing in check-in and security lines, and increased amount of touch-free technology as their primary concerns regarding flying through KCI.

Similarly, both business and personal travelers had the same top concerns around using the current terminal: (1) gate waiting areas; (2) boarding and deplaning aircraft; and (3) security. 

  • Safety at the new KCI terminal:  Business and personal travelers agreed on what they’d like to see in the new terminal:
    • An air filtration system that could assist in eliminating virus/disease at the airport (the top priority of nearly 52 percent of business travelers; nearly 55 percent for personal travelers)
    • An increased amount of touch-free technology
    • Increased cleaning of facilities

“The data sets we’ve historically used to support our air service development efforts are less relevant in the era of COVID-19. The results of this survey will be helpful as we work with our airline partners to restore air service,” said Kansas City Director of Aviation Pat Klein. “Additionally, the feedback regarding safety in the new terminal will certainly be considered as the Build KCI project progresses forward.”

View full survey results, here

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