AUCKLAND: Air New Zealand Ltd said on Tuesday that domestic business travel had returned to 90% of pre-pandemic levels, countering a downward trend in many other countries with more severe COVID-19 outbreaks.
Sales and customer manager Leanne Geraghty said the airline was “blown away” by the new data, noting that it had initially hoped to return to 70% of pre-pandemic levels by 2022.
“Getting back to near normal levels quickly reinforces the strength of our home network and the Kiwis’ desire to reconnect in person,” she said in a statement.
The rebound is stark, given that major industry groups expect global business travel to take years to recover after companies banned or severely restricted movement in an effort to protect the economy. staff and reduce costs, turning instead to video conferencing.
The Global Business Travel Association released a survey earlier this month of companies in the United States, Europe and Latin America that found 69% had suspended most or all domestic business travel, in increase of 5 percentage points compared to February.
In contrast, Air New Zealand added more seats, more scheduled flights and recruited more crew to meet increased demand. It has also reduced its preferential rates, which means customers booking short-term will pay up to NZ $ 100 (US $ 70) less per seat, the airline said.
New Zealand has only reported 2,493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 26 deaths since the start of the pandemic, far fewer than most other developed countries.
Don Braid, managing director of New Zealand logistics group Mainfreight, said the ability to resume face-to-face meetings with customers has been positive for business.