Interview Synopsis

Business travel recovery – outlook for 2021 & beyond

  • Multi Asset
  • Consumer
  • North America

With tentative signs of hope that the world is slowly getting a grip on the COVID-19 pandemic, a big question on everyone’s minds is when international travel will resume. Third Bridge Forum interviewed an interim executive at Global Business Travel Association to discuss how business travel has been impacted by the pandemic and its recovery path.

The expert started by noting that the industry was looking forward to a “stellar” year in 2020, having enjoyed 4-5% growth over the prior five years (depending on region and sector). As one of the industries hardest-hit by COVID-19, how much (if any) business travel will be permanently lost was a key question in the Interview. 

Following a ramp-up period, the expert is confident that it will bounce back “in its entirety”, as was the case after 9/11 and other regional pandemics, such as Sars. Several indicators suggest pre-pandemic levels will resume in 2025, we heard. The impact of vaccines is “immediate”, according to the Interview, and “will only grow as we make our way each month in 2021”. 

With airline capacity wiped out and many routes dropped because of lockdowns, the risk of business seat shortages or pricing spikes once demand returns fully was also on the agenda. “Anything is possible,” the expert said. However, they do not anticipate a sudden spike in demand — “at least on the traditional business type routes”. They also feel that the industry is generally well prepared to respond to a resurgence in passenger numbers. 

Notwithstanding the pandemic, the Interview addressed how some airlines, such as JetBlue, Mint and Southwest, have been gravitating more towards business customers. “Everybody is trying to differentiate themselves and find a way to spice it up a bit and ultimately earn more loyalty from those business customers,” the expert said. “You’ll continue to see that as we go forward. Even in the midst of a pandemic, you know you have to invest in that, and in the end, it’ll bring a good return.”

To access all the human insights in Third Bridge Forum’s Business travel recovery – outlook for 2021 & beyond Interview, click here to view the full transcript.

The information used in compiling this document has been obtained by Third Bridge from experts participating in Forum Interviews. Third Bridge does not warrant the accuracy of the information and has not independently verified it. It should not be regarded as a trade recommendation or form the basis of any investment decision.

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