Brussels Airlines sees 30 to 40% growth in corporate travel out of Belgium

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  • Corporate travel out of Belgium slowly starts to pick up again
  • Weekly increase in bookings of 30 to 40%
  • Brussels Airlines expects companies to ease restrictions in their travel policies as of October
  • European destinations most popular for business traffic
  • Higher demand for flights to the USA due to easing of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers
  • Need for flexibility higher than ever before
Since mid-august, Brussels Airlines notes a light increase in corporate travel out of Belgium. With a weekly increase in bookings between 30 and 40%, the airline expects to welcome around 28,000 corporate passengers out of Brussels in September. While corporate travellers normally book two to three weeks in advance, the trend of last-minute bookings since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis has changed the booking timing to only two to three days ahead of their travel date.

Increasing demand for corporate travel

Some sectors are resuming corporate travel faster than others. The first sectors to pick up business travel again are the European and other political institutions, universities and the Marine business, followed by the automotive industry, international construction companies and producers of building materials. Also NGO’s and insurance companies performing repatriations represent a significant share of Brussels Airlines’ corporate customers.

While many multinationals still apply a (partial) homeworking policy, the airline expects its major corporate customers to ease their travel policies as of October.

Popular business destinations

The most important destinations for corporate travellers are mainly European destinations such as Italy (Milano), Slovenia (due to EU Presidency), Denmark (Copenhagen), Czech Republic (Prague), Germany (Berlin), Austria (Vienna), Switzerland (Geneva), Spain (Madrid & Barcelona) and Portugal (Lisbon).

With the easing of the travel restrictions imposed by the US government, allowing fully vaccinated EU passengers to smoothly enter the U.S.A., Brussels Airlines expects a rising demand for business travel to the United States. In the first 24 hours after the announcement of the end of the travel ban, Brussels Airlines noted a booking increase of 180%. The Belgian airline will offer 4 weekly flights to New York JFK during the winter season.

During the entire crisis, the African network remained of great importance for the airline for both VFR traffic as well as business travel by NGO’s and other companies.

Brussels Airlines expects that the demand for corporate travel will reach the level of 2019 again by 2024. The demand for leisure travel on the other hand recuperates much faster.

Extra flexibility remains key

Also for the corporate customer, the airline sees that flexibility is more important than ever. That is why Brussels Airlines has launched special offers for corporates during the pandemic.

For SME’s, Brussels Airlines and the Lufthansa Group offer a corporate bonus programme called Partner Plus Benefit. The company earns points that can be used for a wide selection of attractive awards such as free tickets, upgrades, lounge access, and more.

To stimulate corporate travel again, the Lufthansa Group, including Brussels Airlines, offers double points on the entire network until the end of the year. More information and a free subscription to the programme can be done via: www.partnerplusbenefit.com.

During the pandemic, the Belgian airline also launched the most far-reaching flexible concept in the Belgian market, called “Pay-As-You-Fly”.

The ‘Pay-As-You-Fly’ product offers process benefits that go far beyond the journey itself based on the concept: “book -> fly -> pay”. As before, contracted corporate customers can make their reservations via their preferred booking channel, being their appointed travel agency or their online corporate booking engine. The flight tickets for all confirmed segments are issued 24 hours before departure. The main difference with a traditional booking is that the payment is triggered only after the guest boards the flight. As from that moment, the ticket price will be debited from the corporate company credit card. If the ‘Pay-as-you-fly’ ticket is not used, i.e. the passenger did not check in, it will be cancelled automatically. Hence, the payment card is not debited. In short, no billings are sent or payments are processed if travel plans change or get cancelled.

During the past two years, flexibility has become even more a necessity for the customer. With these products, Brussels Airlines wants to adapt to their passengers’ needs.