Global airlines are expected to return to profitability for the first time since 2019 this year, as demand for travel from financial services companies and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) help fuel a significant rebound, according to the trade group, the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Demand for leisure trips will also be an important factor, the IATA added.
Booking activity by SMEs hit 80% of 2019 levels during the third quarter of 2022, 19% above multinational corporations, according to American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT). SME executives were some of the first business travelers back on planes after the pandemic-induced slump and have since emerged as the fastest-growing segment within corporate travel, according to Amex GBT.
Spending on global business travel is expected to recover to 80% of 2019 levels in 2023, up from 65% in 2022, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). North America is expected to experience the sharpest rebound with annual growth increases of 23.4% (to $363.7 billion by 2026), the GBTA said.
According to average fares paid by Amex GBT clients on U.S. domestic routes, the cost of first and business class rose by 11% during the second half of 2022 compared with the same period in 2019, while coach prices grew 4%.