Neu-Isenburg, 15 August 2022
The Germans' desire to travel continues unabated, even when it comes to business trips. However, the Covid pandemic has permanently changed some travel habits, as an evaluation by corporate payment specialist AirPlus International shows.
The figures for airline ticket transactions processed via AirPlus increased strongly in the first half of the year, meaning the gap to the pre-Covid year 2019 is becoming ever smaller. In the month of June 2022, the invoicing volume in Germany was only around 10 percent below the level of June 2019.
Longer trips, fewer domestic flights, more business class tickets
The AirPlus Business Travel Index also shows that some habits of German business travelers have changed compared to 2019. For example, their trips in the first half of the year lasted longer than three years ago (5 days) with an average of 6.3 days. Especially when visiting other continents, travelers took more time with an average of 14.5 days (2019: 11.6 days). One-day short trips, which accounted for 17 percent of business trips in 2019, declined significantly this year (7 percent).
While the (relative) majority of business air travel in 2019 was domestic (49 percent), European destinations were favored this year (50 percent / 2019: 38 percent). Companies also booked more business class tickets (13 percent / 2019: 9 percent). On domestic flights in particular, the share of business class travelers climbed from 5 percent (2019) to 12 percent.
New favorites among travel destinations: India, Mexico and Spain instead of China, Russia and the UK
In light of strict Covid entry regulations and geopolitical conflicts, it is hardly surprising that the most popular destinations outside Europe changed compared with 2019: Whereas China and Russia represented the second and third top destinations back then, this year it was India and Mexico. The USA meanwhile held its position as the top intercontinental destination.
In Europe, despite the now more complicated entry regulations in connection with Brexit, the UK remained an important destination for German business travelers. It did however slip from first place (2019) to second place among European countries, with Spain becoming the new favorite.
Less short notice booking
By contrast, some behaviors that emerged during the pandemic returned to normal this year. For example, companies booked airline tickets at less short notice, on average 21.4 days before travel. While the figure had been 24 days in 2019, it had dropped to 16.3 days last year.
Business travel was and is a male-dominated area. This had increased during the pandemic: Last year, 87 percent of Germans traveling for business were men. Now the figure is 81 percent, the same level as in 2019.
"The trend toward longer business trips is an indication that sustainability is becoming increasingly important for companies," says AirPlus CEO Oliver Wagner, commenting on the results of the evaluation. "Employees are handling different appointments within one trip instead of shorter individual trips. They travel more consciously, but like to do so with more comfort in business class. Another possible explanation for the longer trips is the 'bleisure travel' trend, meaning the combination of a business trip with a private trip. Overall, we observe a strong need among companies to catch up on all the face-to-face encounters that could only take place virtually in the past two years. Thanks to the easing of the Covid restrictions, companies now have more planning certainty for their business trips again. Booking figures for the coming months indicate that the recovery in business travel will continue."
About AirPlus International:
AirPlus International is a leading international provider of corporate payment solutions. 49,000 corporate customers rely on AirPlus for the payment and evaluation of their business trips and other purchasing services. The products and services are marketed worldwide under the AirPlus International brand. AirPlus is an issuer of the UATP and Mastercard card schemes. The AirPlus Company Account is the most successful billing account within the UATP. For more information, visit www.airplus.com.