There’s Something In The Air

FCM Consulting forecasts in its latest Global Quarterly Trend Report that global aviation will be back to pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

The forecast comes as the fourth quarter of 2022 wrapped up the corporate travel industry’s year of recovery – a recovery that was kept buoyant by strong growth in Q2 and Q3.

The report showed that Q4-2022 seat capacity saw an 18% increase on Q4-2021 and was 13% down on Q4-2019. It also highlighted a minor slowdown in seat growth in Q4, with the 2022 full-seat capacity up 31% on 2021, but still down 17% on 2019.

Airfares are also staying strong with global international business class fares in 2022 on average 15% more than 2019. Discount economy class fares were on average 12% higher in 2022 than they were in 2019.

FCM Consulting General Manager Felicity Burke observed that: “Predicting full-year 2023 seat capacity is a very long range forecast, nonetheless, airline schedules are offering just 4% less seats than in 2019. Q2-2023 heading into Northern Hemisphere summer shows optimistic travel signals.”

In Q4-2022, China was preparing to open its borders, and has since reopened. At the time of the Global Quarterly Trend Report being produced, Asia had increased airline seats offered – up 17% – from Q4-2022 to Q1-2023.

As for the North America market, Ashley Gutermuth, FCM Consulting Director for the Americas, pointed out that: “Distribution will continue to be a hot topic in the region, with major carrier content cutover deadlines looming. We will have to keep a close eye on what this will do to ticket prices, especially on historically corporate heavy routes.”

Since its last report in October 2022, the top 20 global corporate airlines have reduced their forward schedules by 3%. The current global forecast across these airlines is an average of 10% seat growth from H2-2022 to H1-2023.

As for accommodation, the fourth quarter of 2022 saw North America leading all regions in terms of increased average room rates versus 2019 with an 11% (USD$25) increase followed by Australia and New Zealand which were up 6% (USD$17).

North America will still be leading the charge on airline capacity recovery in the first quarter of 2023, sitting at 101% of 2019 volume. Airfares from 11 months of 2022 versus the same period in 2019 saw a 10% fare increase in both business and discounted economy tickets. American Airlines and United Airlines are forecast to return to 2019 levels in H1-2023.

In terms of accommodation, 2022 saw hotel average rooms rates surpass those in 2019 – up 11% (USD$25) – with hotel occupancy sitting at 95 per cent (indexed to 2019, full-year 2022). Chicago booked a rise of 13% in Average Rate Paid when compared to Q3-2022, while Vancouver registered a 26% drop.

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