Flight Centre’s Corporate Traveller forecasts business travel trends for 2024

Corporate Traveller Global Managing Director Tom Walley

Business travel is expected to remain strong in 2024, with one of Australia’s leading industry experts predicting exciting changes from mid-year. Anticipated increases in capacity and heightened competition among airlines are expected to reduce airfares, providing an additional boost to business travel. 

Tom Walley, Global Managing Director of Corporate Traveller, says: “The business travel industry is thriving and is already seeing significant changes. Premium fares have already dropped, and economy fares are likely to come down by mid-2024 as international carriers increase flight capacity.

"We're seeing travellers take advantage of the ability to combine business and leisure travel. Additionally, there is a focus on face-to-face meetings and collaboration, given the evidence that in-person meetings are the most productive way for businesses to operate. Overall, 2024 promises good news for business travellers.”

1. Business travel remains a high priority despite economic impacts.

While the economic outlook is uncertain, business travel will remain a high priority. Lower airfares in 2024 will offer more options for budget-conscious business flyers. A recent Corporate Traveller survey found that 91 per cent of SME's would continue to travel regardless of economic pressures. Furthermore, an October 2023 survey by the Global Business Travel Association revealed that approximately 70 per cent of corporate travel buyers expect to increase or maintain their travel budgets in 2024[1]


2. Further reduction in premium international flight seats.

Tom has observed a decrease in pricing of business class seats to destinations such as London and New York for the first time since the pandemic. Costs have ranged up to 60 per cent depending on the booking time and flexibility. He suggests utilising a travel management company to find the best price and emphasises flexibility in travel dates, times and airlines.

3. International demand to continue into 2024, but seat capacity will soften prices.

International demand is expected to persist into 2024, but seat capacity will ease prices. Tom indicates that prices will drop moving into next year with increased competition, particularly with the return of Chinese carriers to Australian capital cities. All eight Chinese airlines that operated to Sydney pre-pandemic have now returned, with the final carrier, Sichuan Airlines, marking the milestone at the end of October 2023[2]. Further, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines both returned to Brisbane this month [3]. Existing carriers are also increasing their capacities, with available seats up 25.6 per cent in September 2023 compared to the same time last year[4]. Tom predicts high demand during peak travel periods, such as the 2024 European and North American summer, and advises business travellers to plan and book in advance for popular routes.


4. Regional business travel will sustain rapid growth.

After recent Corporate Traveller research identified a 29 per cent surge in regional travel bookings – with some routes having grown by more than 60 per cent – Tom predicts regional travel will continue at these elevated levels. The fast-growing mining industry, including mining for critical minerals used for renewable energy infrastructure, is believed to be behind the boom. Nine of the top 10 fastest-growing routes were in Queensland where there has been high investment in regional industry, such as mining and tourism.

5. Bleisure trips on the rise.

As flight capacity grows, and collaboration remains a priority, employees are taking advantage of extending their business trips for leisure purposes. Corporate Traveller’s booking data found one, two, and three-day trips between May and October 2023 dropped by an average of 3.9 per cent year on year, while four, five, and six-day trips increased by an average of 4.6 per cent, year on year. Specifically, Corporate Traveller saw a 5.8 per cent growth in six-day trips. This trend is expected to carry into 2024.


6. Brisbane overtaking Perth as the most popular destination for international business travel.

Corporate Traveller’s booking data from 2023 also indicated a 34 per cent growth in international business travel in Perth, compared with Melbourne and Sydney (each less than 10 per cent growth), Brisbane (25 per cent) and Adelaide (21 per cent). By mid-2024, Tom expects Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne to outpace Perth’s growth rates with the return of Chinese airlines. Sydney and Melbourne have fully reinstated services with these Chinese carriers and the Victorian Government revealed it will see further flights added in September 2024[5]

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[1] GBTA Business Travel Industry Outlook Poll | Global Business Travel Association
[2] Return of Sichuan Airlines marks full recovery of 8 Chinese carriers – Sydney Airport
[3] China Eastern Airlines touches down in Brisbane | Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport (dtis.qld.gov.au); China Southern Airlines begins direct flights from Guangzhou to Brisbane - Asian Aviation
[4] Domestic aviation activity | Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (bitre.gov.au)
[5] Victoria to benefit from more non-stop flights from China | Victoria State Government Jobs Skills, Industry and Region