Corporate travel is set to halve until 2023, with long-haul flying on hold “indefinitely” – but 90% of businesses plan some short-haul trips, new research has revealed.
Flight Centre’s business travel division, FCM, found only 26% of businesses planned to return to pre-Covid-19 levels for domestic travel during 2021. However, more than 90% said they would travel domestically and use short-haul international flights within three months of governments reopening borders and lifting restrictions.
FCM interviewed 250 multinational clients and SMEs in more than 60 countries in August. It predicted the number of trips taken would be lower, as only 26% of businesses plan to return to pre-Covid levels for domestic travel during 2021.
“Pre-Covid, the average number of business trips per traveller was six to eight per year; this number is likely to fall between three and four trips per person, per year until 2023,” it said.
FCM said its clients still had long-haul travel plans on hold “indefinitely”, with only 7% of those in the US affirming their intention.
The report said the 11 September attacks had led to a 31% reduction in air traffic in the five months afterwards, while the SARS epidemic in 2003 had seen an 18% drop in April that year. In comparison, Covid-19 saw a 71% fall in May, which had improved to -51.6% in August.
Half of all industries interviewed in August said staff were travelling or booking to travel in the immediate future. The mining and wholesale industries were leading the charge, with around 80% of staff already travelling or preparing to do so. Those least likely to travel were in information, telecommunications and agriculture, forestry and fishing.