The latest lockdowns across the UK are likely to further delay any real recovery in business travel until late 2021.
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association (BTA), told the Elman Wall webinar that bookings for its members remained 90% down year-on-year.
“We’ve not seen any change in two months,” he added. “Our members have had no cash coming through the till potentially for 18 months. Business travel has consistently been down by 90%.
“Because of lockdown 3.0, the indications are that the restart we were hoping for in Q3 has been pushed back another quarter. But it’s early days and the vaccine could change things.
“Business travel is looking to be really soft throughout the year and that’s really concerning. There’s no appetite to get back to business travel generally and some are looking at 2022 as the restart. It could be Q4 2021 or Q1 2022 before we see any sizeable return.”
Wratten has also welcomed the UK government’s belated decision on Friday (8 January) to require pre-departure testing for arrivals into the country.
“We have been campaigning for this since May 2020,” he said. “The testing scheme, travel corridor list and quarantine requirements will need to be kept under close review so that business travellers can contribute fully to the UK economy as international borders open up.”
Wratten added that the BTA would also be pushing the government for a further extension of the furlough scheme to help its travel management companies (TMCs).