The fall-off in corporate travel due to the climate crisis and COVID pandemic could make some transatlantic routes unviable, according to travel expert Eoghan Corry.
Corporate travel is taking longer to bounce back after the pandemic as companies struggle to justify sending executives abroad when they can hold meetings online.
On Breakfast Business this morning, Eoghan Corry, Editor of Travel Extra magazine said many transatlantic routes could be unviable without strong Business Class demand.
“A lot of the transatlantic services really depend on the front of the aircraft,” he said. “That makes the route viable.”
“The stuff that goes on at the back of the planes really for airlines like British Airways is a bit of an afterthought. They can put in leisure services when they have a very strong corporate offering.
“We have seen that was traditionally what kept British Airways flying transatlantic – a big dominant carrier in the transatlantic market on the European side.”
He said a recent survey of world airline CEOS found that just 52% expect to see a rebound in the corporate market by next year.
“It is a huge one and the week that is in it with the COP26 in Glasgow where I was last weekend, the corporates - whatever about the feeling within the corporate boardroom - and particularly climate activists would be very sceptical about the reaction of big business – but certainly the optics now are that you can’t be flying people around needlessly,” he said.
He said airlines are looking to increase fuel efficiency to justify continued corporate travel.
“Certainly, alternative fuel and biofuel and all that has been getting a lot of air but the people who spend a lot of time in that area say the impact of producing the biofuel is worse than the savings that will be generated by it,” he said.
“So, it is certainly about more fuel-efficient aircraft and that is something the aviation industry is trumpeting.
“That the heavy burners like the old classic 747 … the big A380, all of those have been banished from the skies by COVID.
“The big fuel guzzlers, there are fewer of them up there and the more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 Dreamliner and the A321 Neo that Aer Lingus has taken delivery of and is going to be using eight of them in transatlantic services next summer … but there is no shortcut here and aviation is going to be at the heart of that fuel emissions debate as long as fossil fuels are at the core of our business world.”
You can listen back here: