Pleasure travel bookings rival or exceed 2019’s levels and Labor Day weekend bookings topped pre-COVID numbers, major U.S. airlines are reporting.

The flood of enthusiastic travelers has overwhelmed short-staffed airports and carriers.

In contrast, business travel—traditionally airlines’ largest single source of profits—will not equal 2019’s volumes until 2026, 18 months later than estimated last year, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

Business travelers at small and mid-size firms are back on the road in greater numbers than their counterparts at large corporations, The Wall Street Journal noted.

TREND FORECAST: We disagree with the Global Business Travel Association’s assessment that business travel will return to 2019 levels in 2026.  

It will never return.

In articles including “Bid Farewell to the Business Travel Economy” (29 Sep 2020) and “Europe’s Banks Permanently Slash Business Travel” (4 May 2021), among others, we have long forecast that business travel will never return to pre-COVID War volumes.

Inflation and higher interest rates are squeezing companies’ margins; businesses will do what they can to save money.

Having become comfortable, if not entirely happy, with Zooming and teleconferencing during the COVID War, bosses now see their positive impact on the bottom line and will make remote contact, not travel, the new normal.

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