Travel managers looking to cut trips
89% of business travellers are now going coach class according to new research by AirPlus International.
A questionnaire to its customers from the travel payment and card company found that the number travelling business class had dropped from 15% in 2007 to a current figure of 10%.
The number using economy had risen in the same two year period from 84% to 89%. Those using first class stayed steady at 1%.
Data from customer bookings revealed a drop of 19% in the number of reservations in the first two months of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.
The average price of tickets had also dropped by 11%, Patrick Diemer, chairman of AirPlus, said.
Mr Diemer said research showed that 19% of companies in the US, 25% in Asia Pacific and 5% in Europe wanted to cut travel entirely.
"Travel managers are still saying they intend to implement tighter rules on travel management," he said.
"49% in Europe and 62% in the US said they would tighten their rules.
"This is giving travel manager more authority in these times to implement travel guidelines."
Mr Diemer said new authority this could be seen in the fall in the number of cancellations for flights.
"There is a more disciplined approach so that companies can avoid the cancellation costs," he said.
Yael Klein, managing director of AirPlus, said that while most customers had not stopped travelling, there were "quite a few" which had stopped travel by some of their departments.
She said that companies which had cut 70% of their travel were saying there would be no travel budget for some departments.
Mr Diemer said that AirPlus, whose headquarters are in Germany, had had an astonishing first nine months in 2008 before the decline started in the last three months of the year.
But overall the year had seen record growth in volume, sales and performance. Outside Germany, its market had expanded by 30%.
Pre-tax profits for the year rose from €18m in 2007 to €20.2m last year. Sales revenues rose from €194m in 2007 to €230m last year.
During the year, it had pioneered the first lodged card in China, launched its own corporate card, re-launched its new Management Information system and started its Global Online Community, an industry platform for blogs.
Ms Klein, who is based in the UK, said the company had been operating in the country fro ten years and had a turnover last year of £266m, up 22% on 2007, and more than 500 corporate customers.
She said company account volumes in 2009 so far were still at 2008 levels.
There had been a decline in the volume and value but this had been compensated for by new customers.
She said 48 had signed up for the corporate card, including BT, with a further five or six in the pipeline.