Business travellers traditionally accounted for a significant volume of revenue for airlines. A full business class (and/or First Class) cabin could make a route profitable just from these passengers. Prior to the pandemic the London – New York market was a hugely profitable route for airlines and a large proportion of this was due to business travellers. The route was effectively a shuttle service between the two cities with multiple departures in both directions each day by several airlines. This provided choice and flexibility for business travellers.
The pandemic has changed the Business market for airlines, particularly the high-frequency, high-density routes such as London – New York. Advances in technology prior to the pandemic enabled meetings to be held virtually rather than in person. This trend accelerated during the pandemic and meetings that were once held in person can now be conducted online more easily. There will always be a need to meet in person in certain circumstances but this market has not reached the level it was up until 2019.
VFR and leisure has rebounded faster than anticipated, evidenced by the issues experienced at airports in the summer of 2022. VFR and leisure have proven to be resilient markets since COVID-19, evidenced by the quick rebound in traffic as restrictions have been lifted.