The corporate travel sector faces a “bleak” autumn and winter with most businesses not looking to restart travel until the end of the year, the head of the Business Travel Association (BTA) has warned.
Clive Wratten, BTA chief executive, blamed changing quarantine restrictions and “the ‘opening’ and ‘closing’” of destinations for “removing any confidence corporates had in getting back to travel”.
He said: “Many corporates were looking at September [to travel] again and clearly some will. But many say it will now be the end of the year.
“Those who were saying ‘at the end of the year’ now talk about Q1 next year or the end of Q1 before they get back to traveling.”
Wratten said the added difficulty of finding ways to return to offices was also hindering a restart.
He pointed out: “Many companies are still working on how to get staff back into offices and until we get people back in offices that is an inhibitor to travel.”
Speaking on a Travel Weekly Roadmap to Recovery webcast, Wratten said: “Right now this winter looks pretty bleak for the corporate sector.
“If things change and we get testing [the timescale] will come forward. There is appetite there [for travel], but there aren’t the transport links. Clearly, short haul is easier, but even domestic travel is slow.
“Most trains have not reached the levels [of demand] the government or any of us were expecting. There is a little more opportunity for the domestic market but even that is way behind where we hoped.”
He said the removal of France and the Netherlands from the UK’s travel corridors list on August 15 had added to the difficulties, saying: “They’re two key markets and both are now taken away. It’s just bad news on top of bad news.
“The spectre of more coming down the line is destroying confidence.”
The BTA has warned 10,000 jobs could go at travel management companies (TMCs). Wratten said: “Colleagues and friends are losing roles right across the sector. We see over 50% of staff at risk – 10,000 jobs is not far away from where it could end up.
“We already have TMCs which were hoping to see some pick-up in September going into a second round of consultation [on redundancies].”
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