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Lufthansa and BA gain, Air France-KLM flat. Global business travel outlook improving – Ascend

European airline shares were generally higher yesterday amid a solid session for European equities. Lufthansa added 1.3%, while British Airways rose 0.6%.

Air France-KLM Group (shares flat yesterday) reportedly cancelled “slightly less than 10%” of its scheduled medium-haul flights over the 27/28-Feb-2010 weekend, due to a pilots' strike, according to a Bloomberg report.

Business travel outlook improving – Ascend

Ascend’s Chief Economist, Peter Morris, meanwhile stated “a business travel recovery - if only a weak one - is in the air, as both budgets and the number of business flights look set to increase over the next 12 months”. He added, “not surprisingly, the sentiment in North America is more positive overall than in Europe, reflecting trends in the wider economies of those regions”.

Highlights of Ascend’s third annual Corporate Travel Survey, include:

  • Respondents expected a 7.7% increase in the number of business flights planned over 2010 and a 7.6% increase in air travel business budgets;
  • 35% of respondents expect to fly more for business and 28% expect an increase in air travel budgets (compared to 10% and 9%, respectively, in 2009 survey);
  • 13% expect a decrease in flights, compared to 45% in 2009;
  • Only 20% expect a decrease in budgets, compared to 54% in 2009;
  • 16% from Europe and 9% from North America expect the number of flights to decrease;
  • 27% from Europe and 15% from North America expect a decrease in air travel budgets.

More use of travel agencies:

  • An increase in numbers using travel agencies to find better deals: 36% from 29% last year;
  • A decrease in numbers using the internet to find cheaper fares: 40% from 48% last year;
  • Fewer companies planning to reduce the number of staff travelling to conferences: 37% from 55% last year.

Europe selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 01-Mar-2010