Business travel is resuming, albeit not at the pace it used to be

Mr. Hartveldt was more optimistic about the prospects for business travel. “If the economies of developed countries remain strong and the war in Ukraine does not extend, the business travel industry will have a good autumn and winter,” he said, “and 2023 will be a good, perhaps fantastic year. “

The renewed hope contrasts sharply with the mood two years ago, after most business trips were abruptly canceled or suspended. The US Travel Association, a business group, said domestic business travel spending fell 68 percent in 2020 from 2019 levels. And while spending grew in 2021, the group said, it was still around. half of that of 2019.

But last month, said Suzanne Neufang, chief executive of the Global Business Travel Association, the association was seeing “significant gains in the return of business travel, especially in the past month or two.”

An active business traveler is Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association in Washington, who has traveled extensively since last July for conventions, trade shows and conferences.

He’s scheduled 11 trips between now and the end of September, which, he said, “seems like a lot, longer now than I did before the pandemic, partly because I want to meet partners and people I haven’t seen in two and a half years.”

He added: “We are catching up.”

In recent earnings calls, all major US airlines have reported an increase in their business travel bookings. American Airlines, for example, said its commercial demand is already back to 80 percent of 2019 levels.

United said its business travel bookings were “coming back quickly” but had not fully recovered. He also said he is not finding any “significant recovery in commercial traffic” in Asia, where strict restrictions on the coronavirus are still in place. in countries like China and Japan.