Business travel

Corporate travellers are out and about again more often

[Translate to English:] Geschäftsreisende nehmen wieder häufiger in der Business Class Platz

Judging by the latest AirPlus Business Travel Index for the first half of 2010, the economic upswing is also accompanied by recovery of the corporate travel market.

As Europe’s economy picks up, this is reflected in the latest data on business travel behaviour. In the first half of 2010 the number of business flights taken by staff of European companies increased by three percent over the same year-earlier period. Moreover, the percentage of business travellers flying Business Class also rose. Business Class boosted its share Europe-wide from eight percent in January to 10 percent in June 2010, a figure last reached at the end of 2008, before the economic slump. In total, companies in Europe spent seven percent more on air travel than in the first half of 2009. These figures are from the AirPlus Business Travel Index, a survey conducted by the leading international provider of solutions for business travel management, covering the first six months of 2010.

While firms cut domestic business flights by six percent, the number of tickets they booked to European destinations increased by five percent. At 24 percent, intercontinental business flights saw the fastest growth. In the first half of 2010 16.4 percent of all flights were to intercontinental destinations, up from only 13.5 percent in 2009. The rising Business Class share and the increases in long-haul flights have pushed up the average air fare. In January 2010 companies in Europe paid an average of EUR 508, but by June this figure had already climbed to EUR 554. That represents a nine percent hike.

Rail travel also saw growth in the first half of 2010. Europe’s business travellers bought seven percent more rail tickets than in the same period of the previous year. An average rail ticket cost EUR 96 – no change there on the 2009 level. In the first half-year hotel accommodation and expenditure were each up 13 percent for Europe’s business travellers. Rented cars were used 18 percent more often than in the year-earlier period, resulting in 14 percent higher expenditure.

In a survey of travel managers in 20 business travel markets, one in three said they expected further growth in the number of business flights during the next 12 months. By way of comparison, in the crisis year 2009 only 21 percent were forecasting this. 25 percent expect more hotel roomnights and 20 percent more rail travel. 14 percent of travel managers are reckoning on more car hire.

The AirPlus Business Travel Index is based on the evaluation of more than 100 million business travel bookings a year by over 33,000 companies worldwide.