New figures released this week by Air New Zealand show domestic business and corporate travel has defied global trends by returning to 90% of pre-Covid levels.
The airline’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer, Leanne Geraghty, said the airline had been blown away by the swift recovery, particularly since the last alert-level change.
“Our initial hopes were a return to 70% next year, so to recover to near normal levels this quickly really reinforces the strength of our domestic network and the desire of Kiwis to reconnect in person.”
Airline is adding more seats and crew
In many places around the world, such as the United States, business travel is only sitting at around 15% of domestic travel.
Geraghty said that in response to the increased demand, the airline has added more seats, more business-timed flights and brought on more crew.
“We’ve planned a schedule that enables business travel through increased frequency and connectivity, and are also regularly reviewing opportunities to add capacity, such as deploying our larger A321 aircraft on strongly booked flights.
“New Zealand has the strongest domestic travel market in the world at the moment, and this is just another way Air New Zealand is doing everything we can to keep Kiwis connected,” she said.
Face-to-face meetings are still the best
Prominent NZ-based business executive Don Braid, who heads up freight and logistics company Mainfreight, is among those who has welcomed the return to business flying.
“Although online meetings offered a practical solution [during the pandemic], there’s no getting away from how good face-to-face meetings are. Our team works closely with our customers to manage their supply chains, and the personal connection is an important part of maintaining strong working relationships,” he observed.
The Global Business Travel Association projects it will be 2025 before total business travel volumes return to pre-Covid levels and, according to the International Air Transport Association, January 2021 was worse than December 2020 for air travel.