Business travel

Working with airlines | Business Travel News

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After the omicron variant of Covid-19 put the travel resumption on hold from late 2021, business travel has rebounded strongly since mid-February and into the spring. Airlines reported a recovery in business travel in March – whether measured by demand or revenue – of 50% to 80% compared to 2019.

Gross revenues for some carriers are even exceeding 2019 levels, thanks to continued strong demand for leisure and rising fares. In April, the average airfare in the United States rose 156% year over year, reaching its highest level in seven years, according to Airlines Reporting Corp.

Rates are also rising because carriers are still lagging behind in network capacity and recovery, while demand continues to climb and outpace supply. As a result, fewer airlines will want to renew fares this year, so business travel buyers should come to the negotiating table prepared with as much data as possible to back up their demand for discounts.

Buyers will also want to carefully consider carrier routes and schedules as they ramp up business travel, as many options have changed significantly over the past couple of years, particularly in the secondary and tertiary markets. . Some routes of some carriers have disappeared, while other destinations are now served by stopovers rather than direct flights. Therefore, some buyers may need to increase the number of airlines in their programs.

While getting the best deals is always important to business bottom lines, some companies have focused more on the well-being of their travelers than before the pandemic, and they’ve relaxed their policies to allow more employees to book higher classes of service. A word of warning, though: Leisure demand for premium seats has filled the void while business travelers have stayed off the road, and carriers don’t see that diminishing.

This trend could make it harder for business travelers to get the seats they want, especially since companies tend to book closer to departure. Some carriers are “managing” the expected increase in commercial demand by holding back some premium inventory for corporate customers a bit longer, but that’s by no means a sure thing. Buyers could address premium access during contract negotiations.