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Quick Takes

How to Determine When It’s Safe to Fly and What to Expect

Source: Oliver Wyman

Net bookings are down 99.5% year over year, and booked revenue is 103% lower in the U.S. airline industry, according to Forbes. The government and airline industry will need to reassure travelers with transparency about how they are measuring and responding to the risk caused by coronavirus.

Establishing a threat-level assessment, as well as enforcing a safety roadmap for airlines to follow, is a starting point in building the confidence for travelers during the pandemic. Oliver Wyman has proposed a five-level color-coded threat assessment, like the one above, as a potential framework for governments and the aviation industry to code the pandemic threat level. With insight into how the industry is classifying risk, travelers can make informed decisions about when to travel and prepare for any new airport processes in place to detect and contain COVID-19.

Long-term impacts to the industry are expected: An analysis by IATA in May states that it doesn’t expect worldwide passenger demand to surpass 2019 levels until 2023. “Making the public feel safe is also important for the broader economy,” the Forbes article notes, as “a revival in air travel, most likely accompanied by a return of business travel, tourism, and hotel stays, would mean the economy is coming back.”

What Makes Travelers Feel Safe Enough to Fly?

Source: Oliver Wyman

Those traveling by air while the pandemic continues want to see cleaning, mask mandates and an empty seat next to them in order to feel relatively safe, a survey by Oliver Wyman shows. “Although the travel industry has been focusing heavily on ‘touchless travel,’” according to Oliver Wyman’s analysis, “this does not appear to be resonating strongly with travelers.” 

More than 4,600 people across nine countries were surveyed, and at least half of respondents believe their long-term travel habits will change after the pandemic: 43% of respondents who travel for business plan to travel less in the future — up from 27% in the spring. The survey also found that travelers are relying less on government and public policy and more on personal risk assessment when determining when it is safe to travel again. 

Industry leaders predict that international traveling could take years to recover, but for now, airlines have been focusing on how to help travelers feel safe enough to fly. 

How Will the Recession Affect Holiday Spending?

Source: Consumer Confidence Survey, Nielsen

U.S. consumers plan to spend the same amount this year on holiday gifts as they did in 2019, despite the current economic recession, according to a survey by Nielsen for The Conference Board. Not surprisingly, respondents say they’ll spend more on toys and games, as they look for ways to stay entertained under stay-at-home orders

The retail industry is preparing for pandemic-related changes to shopping behaviors, such as a longer holiday shopping season, increased e-commerce and reliance on shipping, and a drop in in-store holiday traffic. In fact, predictions indicate that online shopping will grow by 25% to 35% this holiday season.

The holiday season could help boost the economy in the final months of 2020, as retail accounts for 68% of GDP. Even though the country is struggling with low consumer confidence and high unemployment rates, shoppers are expected to spend $673 — just under the $675 household spending average from 2019.

Teens’ Mental Health During COVID-19 Is Slightly Better Than in 2018

Source: Monitoring the Future; Teens in Quarantine; Institute for Family Studies/Wheatley Institute

Seventeen percent of teenagers in America felt depressed while they were in school during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 27% of teens in 2018. In contrast, “U.S. adults in spring 2020 were three times more likely to experience mental distress, anxiety or depression than adults in 2018 or 2019,” according to a report by the Wheatley Institute.

Depression and loneliness were lower among teens in 2020 than in 2018, yet unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life were slightly higher. During the pandemic, teens were sleeping more and spending more time with their families, which helped lower all-time-high depression rates. However, financial distress still weighed heavily on teens. Out of 1,523 U.S. teens surveyed, one in four were worried that their parents couldn’t provide enough food for the family this summer. 

Mental health was already affecting teens pre-pandemic at record-high rates. The potential for new lockdowns, continued remote learning and uncertainty about the pandemic’s impact will most likely increase teens’ risk of long-term mental health issues. The CDC released a parental resource kit to help support parents in recognizing these mental challenges and ensure their child’s well-being.

Executives Are Too Optimistic About a Return to Normal

Source: Oliver Wyman Pandemic Navigator; https://pandemicnavigator.oliverwyman.com/

Note: Each example represents only one of many possible pathways to the herd immunity threshold; pathways become more numerous and flexible the further out the target date.

Many executives are making planning decisions based on the notion that by the very beginning of 2021, things will get “back to normal.” However, according to recent Oliver Wyman analysis, the long haul will be longer than most expect with normalcy unlikely before Q3 2021.

Recent news on 90-95% vaccine efficacy and significantly higher daily case run rates than those examined above will also have an impact on timing to herd immunity. Taken together, an average new daily case rate of 120,000 and a 90% efficacy vaccine, can improve the timeline by over a month and a half. However, the impact of such a rapid daily case run rate is dramatic — it would result in an additional ~200,000 deaths as compared to a run rate of 70,000 new cases per day. 

Given the long haul in front of us, companies may need to consider if what has been working for the past seven months can be sustained for the next 9 to 12.

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