Airline Industry Changes Frustrate Business Travellers

More business travellers as well as economy passengers are taking to the skies, but many airlines are not yet laying on capacity to meet demand.

Business travel is bouncing back after the global economic crisis. In a report on air travel in the US that reflects global trends, ticket costs are rising together with demand, but business travellers are not getting quite the same privileges they were used to before the crisis. Air costs are up in 2010. After a 12.2% decline in air fares in the US in 2009, there are forecasts that fares are rising by 5.5% during the course of 2010.

Research conducted by Amadeus shows that the turnaround began in summer 2009. Economy travel had rebounded to almost pre-recession levels by May 2010. However, airlines are still wary and have not increased capacity to match the rising demand. This means that fewer seats are available for business travellers. If they want an upgrade, something they may have been used to in the past, it’s not so easy to arrange.

The growing process of consolidation in the airline industry is resulting in fewer airlines flying with fewer seats, fewer frequent flyer programs and fewer frequent-flyer upgrades competed for by more passengers. “It’s like playing musical chairs,” says one expert. “Travellers are getting disappointed.” As previously reported in TTG Nordic, another trend business travellers are having to contend with is the growth in ancillary fees – additional costs for baggage, meals, in-flight WiFi, itinerary changes and other services.

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