SEVEN out of 10 Filipinos are still keen on pushing through with their planned air travel in the next nine months despite the rising coronavirus cases, a survey commissioned by low-cost carrier Philippines AirAsia, Inc. showed.

This is “an encouraging indicator for the aviation industry this year,” the airline said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

Tangere, a big-data analytics firm, conducted the survey for Philippines AirAsia in December last year. Tangere has 1,605 users between the ages of 18 and 60 from socioeconomic classes A, B, C, D, and E, according to Philippines AirAsia.

Despite the heightened caution, 60% of the respondents expressed a desire to travel domestically, with Palawan (77%), Boracay (69%), Cebu (58%), Siargao (57%), and Bohol (52%) topping the list of preferred destinations.

“Davao also ranked high among Visayan travelers, getting the thumbs up of 52% of pollees from the region,” the airline said.

“Should international border restrictions relax this 2022, five out of 10 Filipinos are also ready to travel abroad, picking Seoul, South Korea (78%); Singapore (73%); and Osaka, Japan (71%) as their must-visits,” it added.

In its analysis published on Oct. 19 last year, the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation said, citing International Air Transport Association projections for next year, that “‘Within-Asia’ traffic… is forecast to be still nearly 90% below 2019 levels for the full year 2022.”

“Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for about a third of global RPKs (revenue passenger kilometers). But in 2022, the region will now remain approximately three-quarters below Europe and North America,” it added.

Philippines AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Ricardo P. Isla said the airline is seeing that Filipinos are now much more confident to travel because the country is gaining “a better understanding of the pandemic” and developing “a more fitting culture of safety and vigilance.”

“At AirAsia, we are observing an uptrend in long-term bookings which signifies a more positive outlook on travel plans this year. But we are not letting our guards down. We will be consistent in prioritizing the safety and well-being of our guests as they fly to their intended destinations,” he added.

The survey also showed that Filipinos will be traveling in smaller groups this year.

The airline said 69% prefer to travel with families, 40% with partners, and 24% with close friends over work colleagues, solo trips, and group tours.

“This reflects the yearning of some Filipinos to reconnect with their loved ones from whom they were isolated in the past couple of years,” it noted.

Moreover, only 13% of the survey respondents are willing to spend between P30,001 and P40,000 on their travel, while 15% and 38%, respectively, limit their budget to P15,000 to P20,000 and less than P14,999.

“Frugality has been expected by air carriers given the economic impact of [the pandemic] and the long list of essentials…, as well as the need to grow personal emergency funds,” the airline said.

“In line with this, Filipinos keep an eye out for bang-for-buck offers that can help them in their trips like complete tour package deals of Flights + Hotel + Tours and Activities (66%), discounted Flight + Hotel bundles (61%), and discounted Food + Activities bundles (59%),” it added. — Arjay L. Balinbin