Corporate travel will rebound in 2011: After two years of attrition, recovery is in the air


After two years when global respondents to Ascend’s annual business travel survey reported cuts in air travel and corporate budgets, the latest survey indicates significantly better prospects for airlines in 2011.

Ascend’s annual poll of business travellers, conducted in co-operation with CAPA, found:

  • 49% expect to fly more for business in 2011 – compared to 35% last year and only 10% in 2009.
  • Travellers indicated an overall 5.5% increase in the number of business flights for 2011, and 48% were expecting an increase in travel budgets – compared to 28% last year and just 9% in 2009.
  • Only 20% of travellers expected a decrease in 2011 budgets, compared to 54% last year.
  • Good news for airlines was that budgets and flights growth for 2011 were expected to move in step.

Peter Morris, Ascend’s Chief Economist, says the poll underlines the way that corporate travel and economic recovery go hand in hand. "To get global business going again international business people have to fly, and after the many business challenges of 2009 and 2010, travellers clearly feel now is the time to start rebuilding their businesses".

The survey highlights a range of changes for better and worse that respondents have noted over the last two years, and highlights a healthy scepticism about the benefits of future airline consolidation - where more than 70% believe this will bring higher prices and less competition.

North American respondents are feeling the most sorry for themselves, with 70% saying that airline service on board has declined over the last two years - and offered the opportunity to say what has improved for the business traveller, some 40% of North American respondents replied ‘Nothing’. This contrasted with rather more optimism among European or Asia Pacific respondents.

Looking at what has improved over the last two years respondents noted:

  • Greater efficiency in check in and pre-flight
  • Cheaper fares
  • More choice of low cost airlines

Looking at what has got worse over the last two years, respondents noted:

  • Crowded planes
  • Increased security queues
  • Decline in ‘on board’ service

More than 380 corporate travellers from around the world responded to the survey, of whom the majority were long haul business class travellers. The sample reported company travel trends, so cover a much wider population.

The survey also highlighted ongoing cost reduction strategies by companies, as well as attitudes to low cost airline travel and the airlines’ use of the internet.

Finally in an open ended response, the list of complaints about global business air travel threw up a litany of concerns, headed by all aspects of security processes.

For a full presentation of the results, with graphs, please download the PDF from the box in the top left corner of this page.

For more information

Please contact Nancy Prendergast or Lise Colyer at Tannissan Mae Communications on +44 (0) 20 7243 4440.

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