Face-to-face meetings will continue to be a key driver of business in the UK, and demand for air travel is expected to increase, according to a report for London City Airport by consultancy WPI Economics, released on Thursday.
The report, which surveyed 1018 UK business leaders, revealed 98 per cent of companies that used air travel before the pandemic will continue to do so. Nearly half (45 per cent) expect to increase air travel compared to 2019, with one in five (19 per cent) expecting an increase of more than 25 per cent.
Additionally, 47 per cent of respondents who did not use air travel before the pandemic said they will be likely to do so in the next two years. One in five (20 per cent) expect hybrid working to increase their use of business air travel in future.
Air travel will also prove critical to post-pandemic economic recovery, with 67 per cent of companies saying they would lose clients or contracts if their team was unable to fly.
The report also highlighted regional business travel as critical to the UK government’s levelling up agenda, with half or more of business leaders in every nation and region of the UK reporting that air travel helps their business to win new contracts, sales or investment.
Nearly half (44 per cent) of companies in the North of England said they would lose clients or contracts if they were unable to fly. Half or more of business leaders in Scotland (54 per cent), Northern Ireland (64 per cent) and Wales (48 per cent) said that flying is essential to do business face-to-face.
However, lingering anxiety over Covid-19 (41 per cent), concerns regarding the carbon footprint related to air travel (26 per cent), and ongoing delays and cancellations at airports (29 per cent) are barriers to a broader business travel return.