BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
Thursday 9th September, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
ExCeL London - 30 Sep - 01 Oct 2021
18 October 2021 - Virtual
As the global economy recovers airlines must overcome complacency if they are to maximise their share of business travel traffic, according to one of the UK’s leading aviation consultants.
This week the International Airlines Group (IAG) and Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM both reported encouraging year-on-year rises in premium traffic for December.
While a survey conducted by The Business Travel Show in London also revealed corporate travel budgets would increase this year.
John Strickland, a consultant at JLS Consulting, predicted a lot of competition between carriers, and said those focused on the business development of premium products should capture the biggest share.
“If [corporate travel] budgets are improving airlines can’t be complacent. There is now a good argument for travelling in business class because people are going out to look for new customers and contracts and there is more justification to travel comfortably on a long haul flight," he said.
“You can’t do business if you’ve been squashed up in economy for 12 or 24 hours. Airlines have to make sure they deliver the right destinations and a quality service.”
Strickland said long-haul premium traffic should be the airline’s biggest focus.
“It is the most valuable [cabin] for airlines. Short haul is not the area where [premium travel volumes] are critical. Those glory days have gone.
“Low-cost carriers have turned it around and people are focused on price more than anything.
“But even going through the recent tough economic times in Europe and, to a slightly lesser extent the US, we’ve seen pretty good premium flows and they’re starting to firm up even more.”
Strickland said traffic out of emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and Latin American would be increasingly significant.
“And it’s not just traffic from traditional companies that are based in Europe,” he said.
Premium economy cabins would continue to be more prevalent, said Strickland, as carriers try to emulate the model made so successful by Virgin Atlantic.
“We’re still seeing this development of premium economy, which for those carriers that have got it, is a bridge for people whose budgets won’t extend to fully fledged business class but don’t want the-knees-in-your face experience in economy.”