Future of business class travel in doubt

Many European businesses have put their business travellers on short-haul business trips in economy class or on low-cost airlines, as companies find travel is now their second largest controllable expense, according to American Express,

As a result, business class fares across Europe are stalling despite renewed traveller confidence.

According to Matthew Davis, director of consulting services at American Express Europe, there is a ‘rethinking’ of short-haul business class in Europe as companies ask their employees to save on travel expenses.

But he added: ‘While recent fare-cutting has been hailed as the ‘triumph of the low cost model’, business travel is not only about cost.

‘From a short-haul perspective, flexibility and proximity – allowing business travellers to work effectively – are key. For long-haul business travel, there are significant factors weighing against the low cost model, such as comfort and convenience.’

The survey also found the downturn, coupled with the results of September 11, was creating a new travel environment with promotional fares offered , new fare categories launched, and routes restructured.

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