The UK’s business travel sector is showing signs of continued recovery, with British companies spending roughly 119 per cent more on airline tickets in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2021, according to data from payment provider AirPlus International.
Despite inflation, the AirPlus Business Travel Index shows a slight drop in air fares, with business class tickets “slightly cheaper” than in the previous three months, costing an average of £4,274, while prices for economy tickets fell by roughly 4 per cent to £363.
Payment data also reveals that bookings took place earlier than last year, on average 27.8 days prior to travel. Following a period during the pandemic when bookings had been made at very short notice, the current advance booking period is even higher than 2019 (21.6 days), possibly due to companies looking to mitigate ongoing capacity limitations.
The data also indicated that British companies are enhancing their sustainable travel initiatives following a decrease in the number of one-day trips. Only 4.4 per cent of bookings in Q1 accounted for such trips – half of the figure for 2019.
Following the easing of China’s quarantine restrictions in January, the index showed travel to the country has increased, with China ranked 12th among a list of international destinations, up from last place in the previous year. In 2019 China had been ranked third.
The US remained the top business destination for British travellers in Q1, according to the index, followed by India and the UAE.