Speedy recovery of business air travel will bring billions to UK economy

Business air travel could bring an extra £17.5bn into the UK’s pockets.

A speedy recovery of business air travel could bring extra billions into the UK’s pockets, according to a study published today by WPI Economics.

Figures showed that business travellers returning to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 would lead growth rates increasing by 50 per cent by 2030, whereas passenger levels going back by 2025 would cause growing rates to go back as pre-Covid. 

Under the fast return scenario, the business travel contribution to the UK’s economy would amount to an extra £17.5bn between now and 2030, £10bn of which going to London.

“We did see the emergence of positive business travel trends, which are continuing in 2022 and will be so critical for the economic recovery of London and the UK more widely,” commented London City Airport’s chief executive Robert Sinclair, who commissioned the study.

“Being able to attract and retain global talent and investment through better connectivity will be vital to the capital’s economic prospects.”

The research also showed that 73 per cent of executives expect to travel for work by 2024, with numbers rising to 89 per cent in London.

Around 47 per cent of companies who didn’t fly since early 2020 said they would go back to business travelling, while 67 per cent said they would lose clients if teams were unable to go abroad. 

“The return of business air travel is beneficial for a number of reasons,” explained Tory MP Stephen Hammond, who also chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Business Travel. 

“Not only do business travellers make up a significant proportion of inbound travellers to the UK, but their presence is vital for both national and regional economies.”

Data released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics reported that only 1.2 million business trips to the UK were made in 2021 because of Covid travel restrictions. 

That was down 86 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

“To avoid missing out on these potential economic uplifts, aviation bosses need to incentivise those businesses who have said they want to fly to return to the skies as quickly as possible,” he added. 

“It means ensuring a safe, speedy journey through the airport, and putting an end to chaotic security queues.”


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