Execs forced 'to slum it' in economy class
Many executives forced to take economy seats on planes due to the recession are still likely to be "slumming it" when they take flights in the future, a report today showed.
As the economy recovers, many companies are keen for staff to carry on flying in economy class or use low-cost carriers, the report from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.
But although video conferencing has increased, many executives will at least still be able to fly away on business as "companies still wish to meet current and potential customers in person", the report said.
Flying On Business, the report, said demand for business travel fell by 22% during 2008 and 2009, was also down in the first quarter of 2010 but was now recovering.
Business air links with Europe were hit hardest by the recession, with demand dropping by 25% between 2008 and 2009.
Heathrow airport was not immune from the downturn, with domestic and short-haul routes being particularly badly affected, dropping 30% and 25% respectively between 2007 and 2009.
The report said the recession "hastened the migration" of short-haul business travellers from business class to travelling in economy and using no-frills carriers.
There was a general acceptance that economic recovery will not reverse this trend. As a result of companies looking to embed efficiencies forced on them by the recession, evidence suggests that business travellers are being increasingly encouraged to search for the "best fare on the day", to consider the travel costs when planning their itinerary, and to accept some restrictions on ticket flexibility.
The report said those fortunate to fly in business class on long-haul flights were getting a far higher standard of service than a decade ago.
CAA group economic regulation director Harry Bush said: "The recession significantly reduced the amount of UK business travel, but also changed its nature. It accentuated the trend away from short-haul business class to economy and no frills.
"Businesses economised across the board. As growth returns, business travel will revive, but it is an open question how far some of the economies made in the recession will permanently affect the way companies allow their employees to travel."