Business travel rebounds after a 2-year lull in pandemic

According to a report in The Business Standard, business travel, which had faced a wind-down owing to successive waves of the pandemic, is now on an upswing.

IndiGo, the country’s largest domestic airline, has seen a complete recovery in corporate travel in April and May.

Online travel companies too have registered strong growth in the segment with the easing of pandemic restrictions and opening of offices.

“In March we had 64 per cent recovery in corporate travel over the pre-Covid level. In April and May it reached the pre-Covid level. We are bullish about business recovery,” said IndiGo Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer Sanjay Kumar.

January-March is a seasonally weak quarter for business. According to Kumar, while business from some IT and consulting companies is yet to revive, “growth is seen in most other corporate segments”.

“We are also encouraged with meeting, incentive, conference, and exhibition and SME traffic,” Kumar said.

Domestic air traffic has been witnessing month-on-month growth, which till now was largely fuelled by the leisure and visiting family and relatives segment (VFR). Between January and April, domestic airlines flew 35.6 million, a growth rate of 22.6 per cent over the same period last year.

Revival in business travel bodes well for airlines and helps them improve profitability on metro-to-metro routes. This is crucial as airlines continue to face the twin challenges of expensive fuel and a weakening rupee.

The IndiGo management is optimistic because it feels the airline’s vast network, frequencies, and service give it an edge over its rivals and allows it to get more bookings in the 0-15 day window.

“While we have seen growth across all corporate travel segments, one sub-segment that is shining is the demand coming from tier II and tier III cities. Nearly 60 per cent of hotel bookings for the corporate travel are registered from them,” said MakeMyTrip co-founder and group CEO Rajesh Magow.

Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder of EaseMyTrip, said special airfares, complimentary meals, and better flight cancellation rates were helping sustain corporate travel demand.

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