November 21st, 2022
It had been declared moribund, if not doomed, just a year earlier. But is business class air travel starting again now? British Airways owner IAG predicted a return to profit this year, saying a strong recovery in business bookings was driving the recovery.
In a world where half the city can no longer be bothered to go on the Northern line to return to the office, and bankers reduce the cost of a train from Surrey, how can airlines claim to have shut it down?
There are a few things to note. First, not all premium seats are necessarily occupied by passengers traveling solely for work. A host of holiday companies, from travel giant TUI to BA, have reported that more affluent customers, who continued to earn and in some cases save heavily when forced to stay at home during the pandemic, are now blowing much more on holiday are – even though the cost of living crisis affects many people.
But work trips are also making a comeback. Large, multinational firms may adopt Zoom for many internal meetings, with long-term implications for airlines. Most assume that such flights would be too short for a European managing director to touch base with a boss at the US global headquarters.
However, many small and medium firms say they cannot afford to do business that way, especially in terms of winning new customers or sealing contracts. This is not necessarily to the advantage of the likes of IAG, with wide-body aircraft and business class cabins: in the short haul, easyJet has claimed to have stolen a march among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). , Whose budgets can be always be strict.
BA's boss, Sean Doyle, confirmed that SMEs were the first to make a comeback, but large corporations are now booking in, with banking and finance leading the charge to the skies. Accountancy and consultancy are far behind and sectors like IT and pharmaceuticals are now making a comeback.
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