Study: Domestic and Short-Haul Business Trips Back to 2019 Levels

For the first time since the pandemic, domestic and short-haul business flight bookings have returned to 2019 levels, according to new research released on Thursday from the Mastercard Economics Institute. Long-haul traffic, however, remains significantly down on pre-pandemic volumes.

The report, which integrates booking data from Mastercard transactions as well as IATA passenger data and Google Community Mobility Reports, highlighted the sharp return of business travel.

A surge at the end of March 2022 saw overall global business flight bookings inch just above 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic. In comparison, at their lowest in 2022 (mid-January) business flight bookings were roughly half of pre-pandemic levels.

In Europe, domestic and short-haul business travel surpassed 2019 levels in April by 30 percent and 37 percent, respectively. Medium-haul was just below (-5 percent), and long-haul travel lags behind (-46 percent), but an upward trajectory continues.

This is similar to global recovery trends, where short- and medium-haul business travel are at +24 percent and -5 percent of pre-pandemic levels, respectively. However, long-haul is improving at a slightly faster pace (-8 percent), largely driven by an uptick in Asia Pacific in late April, where bookings climbed to 11 percent of 2019 figures.

Beyond travel restrictions, the report identified how new ways of working are affecting business travel, with business flight bookings underperforming in markets with the most work-from-home labor forces.

Other headwinds include ongoing uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 variants and a rise in airline operating expenses and, therefore, airfares. However, price increases are not consistent across all markets. In the UK, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland prices at the end of April were below 2019 levels. Meanwhile, price in Germany, Norway, Turkey and Hungary were more expensive.

“Like any flight, the travel recovery has faced both tailwinds and headwinds,” said Natalia Lechmanova, senior economist, Europe and Middle East Africa at Mastercard. “The resilience of the consumer and the desire to return to ‘normal’ and make up for lost time gives us optimism that the recovery will continue, even if there are bumps along the way.”

Originally Posted by BTN Europe.

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