Global business travel recovery starts to slow

2023 was supposed to be another rapid year for global business travel recovery, however there are signs that recovery is starting to slow – or possibly reaching a ceiling

Oct 25, 2023

Although business travel spending and volumes are certain to recover to pre-pandemic levels eventually, corporate travel’s relative importance for airlines may end up being diminished. As a result, airlines may need to permanently adjust their strategies and operations to account for a reduction in the global appetite for business travel as the market continues its post-pandemic realignment.

Key takeaways

  • Global inflation has contributed, both by raising airfares and cooling economic growth as governments seek to tame price increases through raising interest rates and reining in fiscal stimulus;
  • This has also influenced travel buying – large enterprises have remained cautious around travel and kept a tight rein on budgets. Small and medium firms have been more aggressive around travel and spending, but they have not been able to completely fill the gaps;
  • Video-conferencing has become pervasive and offers a convenient and inexpensive alternative for face-to-face meetings, particularly for those that are internally facing;
  • At the same time, this technology has also helped a shift towards work-from-home and hybrid working arrangements. This is producing some structural changes of its own, igniting new demand for ‘blended’ travel – with workers combining personal and business travel into (sometimes extended) travel arrangements;
  • Sustainability and the environmental cost of air travel garnered significant public and corporate attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is also starting to shape the business travel recovery.

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