Are business travelers a dying breed?
During the pandemic, airline tickets were super cheap. One reason was that everyone wasn’t taking their tour-de-COVID to different parts of the world, opting to stay home instead. (Good job, by the way.) Another is that gas prices got super cheap, meaning jet fuel was super cheap, and airlines passed on some of those savings to the consumer.
Well, now that people around the world are a little more willing to hop in a confined space with 250 of their closest friends for eight hours, airlines are looking to make up for the lost revenue they had during earlier parts of the pandemic. So, ticket prices are going up. For example, a business-class flight from Australia to New York will now run more than US$20,000 – about double what you would have paid pre-pandemic.
As a result, companies say that their employees will either have to fly coach or not because of the high cost. Still, this might end up being a nonissue for some since what used to require a lengthy international trip has, in many cases, turned into a remote meeting.
So as the song goes, “COVID killed the business-class traveler that isn’t actually rich enough to afford the seat without the boss footing the bill.” (Catchy.)
“Demand is clearly outstripping supply,” said Nick Vournakis, the executive VP at a corporate travel management firm called CWT. “At some point, corporates are going to say enough is enough.”
“We have almost stopped traveling,” said Purnima Thakre, co-head of Refine and Focus, a Boston-based consulting firm. “For any given project, I’d rather pay people better than spend that money on air tickets.”