Growth in business travel as airfares drop

Business travel is on the rise as global airfares trend downwards and demand remains steady post-COVID-19 pandemic.

According to FCM Consulting’s latest Global Quarterly Trend Report, Q1 2024 business travel has seen gradual consistent growth in trips, which is forecast to continue into Q2 2024 as economic outlook and confidence rises.

The quarterly trend report draws on global data sourced from FCM Travel and Flight Centre Travel Group corporate booking data for travel from January to March 2024.

It shows that, on average, global ticket prices in economy are 11 per cent above the same month in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however flight costs in the same class have dropped 16 per cent compared to January 2021, which was during the height of the pandemic.

FCM Consulting’s APAC director, Felicity Burke, says pricing for travel remains strong as demand incrementally grows in 2024.

“Global Inflation is estimated to be at 5.9 per cent in 2024, unemployment rates are trending lower, and consumer confidence is returning once again,” she says.

“Generally, the global economy has been resilient against increases in interest rates, and with the economic outlook being somewhat positive for the remaining year, corporate budgets are increasing with confidence, enabling steady business travel trends.

“Pricing will remain strong in most locations as demand grows throughout the year, but it needs to be kept in mind that several geopolitical conflicts will continue to bring a level of uncertainty to the global economy.”

The report highlights that stable booking volumes in Q1 2024 means corporate travel demand remains steady and there is now less guesswork for the industry, including for airlines, hotels and car hire companies.

“Travellers continue to tightly manage budgets for the remainder of the year, with early bookings and more days away,” says Burke.

“The average advanced booking days have increased to 23.3 and average days away have lifted to 4.4 – unsurprising given the continued business ‘bleisure’ trend.

“Monthly seats offered from May to December 2024 have been forecast to an average of +3.6 per cent (+17.8 million) above 2019 monthly averages, with 2024 scheduling continuing to signal supply confidence across five of the seven global regions.

“The forecast for seats offered across top corporate global airlines in 2024 is set to be six per cent above 2019, with the number of flights offered down one per cent.

“Top corporate airlines globally show that low-cost carriers (LCC) are also performing well.

“Interestingly, LCCs will represent 31 per cent of global seats offered in 2024. That is a one per cent increase versus 2019, with 28 per cent of all flights offered also being on an LCC carrier – again a rise of one per cent.”


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