Working From Home is Decreasing Business-Class Travel

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In August, the Global Business Travel Association predicted that corporate travel would not return in full until 2026 due to multiple factors, including easy access to online conferences, rising inflation, airline cancellations, staff layoffs, and environmental concerns. While airlines have seen a boom again in travel this year, the number of business travelers is still below pre-pandemic numbers, according to a new report released by Associated Press.

What is another factor causing this decrease in business travel? Working from home.

Remote work, zoom meetings and conferences, and “bleisure” traveling have all contributed to the lack of business travel. Why travel for work when you can do your work at home? “The whole challenge for the industry is around the return of the corporate traveler, and whether he is going to come back in enough volume and frequency that is going to help these airlines,” John Grant, OAG travel analyst, said to Associated Press.

Business travelers usually make up a large amount of airline revenue throughout the fall season, but experts say the business travel sales are down 25-30% below pre-pandemic levels. Business travelers are a central part of airlines’ revenue in non-peak windows.

The uncertainty of traveling for business is also due to the growing “bleisure” travel- a blend of business and leisure travel. “Bleisure” traveling has become a large obstacle for airlines to recover from the pandemic years. Less are traveling for business and leisure separately, and more are beginning to combine the trips into one travel exchange.

There is an unevenness for business travel because of the risk of fewer people working in the office. This has deterred corporate companies from starting business travel again. “On the corporate side, it just takes a little more to restart that because there are so many moving parts,” Chuck Thackston said. “If you want to go visit clients in New York, it could be that nobody is in the office in New York.”

Slowly, companies are resuming travel for business, but not yet to the scale business travel once was.

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