Business travel resumes, but not at previous pace

Mr. Harteveldt was more optimistic about the outlook for business travel. “If the economies of developed countries remain strong and the war in Ukraine does not spread, then the business travel industry will have a good fall and a good winter,” he said, “and 2023 will be a good, maybe a great year for that.”

The renewed hope contrasts sharply with the mood of two years ago, after most business trips were abruptly canceled or suspended. The US Travel Association, a trade group, said that in 2020 domestic business travel spending was down 68% from 2019 levels. And while spending rose in 2021, the group said , they were still around half of what they were in 2019.

But last month, Suzanne Neufang, chief executive of the Global Business Travel Association, said the association was seeing “significant gains in the return of business travel, particularly in the past two months”.

An active business traveler is Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association in Washington, who has traveled extensively since last July for conventions, trade shows and speaking engagements.

He has 11 trips planned by the end of September, which he said “seems like a lot, more now than I did before the pandemic, partly because I want to meet partners and people that I haven’t seen in two and a half years.

He added: “We are catching up.”

In recent earnings calls, major US airlines all reported increases in business travel bookings. American Airlines, for its part, said its commercial demand had already returned to 80% of 2019 levels.

United said its business travel bookings were “coming back quickly”, but had not fully recovered. He also said he found no “significant recovery in commercial traffic” in Asia, where strict coronavirus restrictions are still in place. in countries like China and Japan.