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SHOREWOOD, WISCONSIN Business travel is likely to stay depressed as the airline industry begins its recovery from the pandemic. That’s the conclusion of a new report based upon a first-ever approach of assessing business travel by trip purpose, rather than industry category.

The research from IdeaWorksCompany estimates the frequency of different types of airline trips, predicts how that will change, and offers insights into how airlines can maximize new revenue in the future.


Key findings from the report:


  • Analysis reveals a potential overall loss of airline business trips ranging from a low of 19% to a high of 36%.
  • Travel for “sales activity and securing clients” is the largest category of business air travel (25% of the total); it’s projected to show a modest loss ranging from zero up to 20%.
  • Intra-company meetings comprise 20% of all business air trips, and are projected to decrease up to 60%.
  • Business travel booked by US corporate travel agents had a 95% year-over-year plunge in transaction value at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020; this slightly improved to an 85% drop by November 2020.
  • Airlines can recover the revenue loss by:
  •  - Enhancing leisure travel retail efforts;
  •  - Boosting ancillary revenue;
  •  - Reducing lie-flat seat capacity; and
  •  - Adding premium economy seating#
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