Business travel may finally return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024, and a boost in flight connectivity is helping.
Trips taken by education consultants and technology providers serving colleges and universities led business travel this year between the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
Corporate bookings have surged 44% this year through October. Sales from the education sector were up 150%. Other leading drivers of corporate travel were government or nonprofit, IT, services, mining, and oil and gas companies.
The numbers come from Flight Centre Travel Group‘s Corporate Traveler and FCM divisions.
The highest travel expenditures have been recorded by colleges and universities, followed by technology providers serving educational needs and education consulting firms.
Australia’s Business Travel Boost
Company earnings filed in August show Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate division outperformed its leisure travel bookings, with $7 billion (AU$11 billion) in sales for the fiscal year ended June 30. That marked a 24% rise over pre-pandemic business travel performance levels.
The company’s leisure travel division reported $6.4 billion (AU$11 billion) in sales for the same period.
Overall, global business travel spending is expected to surpass its pre-pandemic spending level of $1.4 trillion (USD) in 2024, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) recent 2023 business travel outlook.
GBTA data showed construction topped the corporate travel sector list globally, with education second, while travel by professionals involved in scientific and technical activities remained resilient following the pandemic.
Air Capacity Boost for Business Travel
The uplift in travel between the nations has also coincided with increased airline capacity.
This past year, United Airlines announced non-stop services between Australia’s East Coast and Los Angeles, increasing its direct route from San Francisco.
In New Zealand, business travelers have the option of flying from Auckland to New York through Qantas or directly between San Francisco and Christchurch.
Most Popular Routes
This year, the most popular flight route between the United States and Australia has been Los Angeles to and from Sydney. Los Angeles to and from Melbourne, which held the top spot last year, is now second on the list for 2023. Sydney rounded out the rest of the top five.
Top routes between the U.S. and Australia
- 1) Los Angeles – Sydney
- 2) Los Angeles – Melbourne
- 3) New York – Sydney
- 4) San Francisco – Sydney
- 5) Boston – Sydney
According to the data, Auckland is the undisputed hub for Americans wanting to do business in New Zealand. The top five flight routes this year between the countries are below.
Top routes between the U.S. and New Zealand
- 1) Los Angeles – Auckland
- 2) San Francisco – Auckland
- 3) Chicago – Auckland
- 4) Honolulu – Auckland
- 5) Las Vegas – Auckland
Business Travel Beyond Australia
The U.S. accounted for 25% of the global business travel annual growth, with spending for the year up until August sitting at $329 million, GBTA said.
China has led the sector’s recovery with $360.7 million in business travel spending in the first eight months of the year. That came despite outbound flight capacity to the country sitting at half of 2019 levels.
Airlines Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date
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Photo credit: Business travel within the education sector has surged between the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Andrew Neel / Unsplash