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New study says airline industry needs to do more to reassure passengers it's safe to fly

FGCU professor a co-author on study
Posted at 8:29 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 15:15:25-04

LEE COUNTY — A new study says airports and airlines aren’t doing enough to make people want to fly again.

COVID-19 has kept people from traveling, but a professor at FGCU says there are ways to boost traffic heading into the holidays.

The amount of people traveling through Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is going up, but it’s still down almost 45% from what it was last year. Professor Jase Ramsey said, after talking with more than a thousand travelers himself, he’s got a good idea of what airlines need to do to make people feel safe.

Ramsey said, even just being in an airport terminal right now can put people on edge.

“As soon as we walk into the airport were scanning. We’re looking to see if it feels safe," said Ramsey.

Ramsey said it’s that concern over safety that’s keeping people from flying, which is a problem because the airline industry is the largest private employer in the state. That’s why Ramsey said, if they want more business, they need to be clear about precautions.

“The airport needs to space people out. Don’t have these big huge queues at TSA. Make sure that the flights are more spread out than they might normally be," said Ramsey.

RSW post all of its their COVID precautions on its website, including requiring masks inside at all times. It’s policies like that that fliers we spoke with want to see.

“When you see stories from the major airlines where they’re telling the public the precautions they’re taking, that makes me as a traveler feel better," said Wendy Shannon, who was traveling back home to Chicago.

Ramsey also said airlines can use big data to learn what types of safety procedures are most important to people, and if they let the public know those precautions are a priority, Ramsey said airlines will see more business.

“I think that we’re going to see a lot of people come in soon, and we need people to come in soon," said Ramsey.

Here is a link to the full study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517720301667?via%3Dihub

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