If you’ve travelled anywhere by plane in the past nine months you no doubt have been struck by the lack of business travel there is in the U.S. Airports are for the most part dead, and flights are occupied by rows and rows of families and individuals, and look nothing like the plane load most frequent fliers are used to seeing.
The trickle down effect has been brutal, as it’s not just airlines that have felt the pain, but also hotels, rental-car companies, travel agencies, restaurants, convention planners and caterers. The business travel ecosystem trickles down even further when you take into affect the impact the slowdown in travel has had on taxi companies, entertainers, airport kiosks, stores inside airports and even manufacturers of airplane parts.
In 2019, the U.S. Travel Association’s data indicates that business travelers in the U.S. spent a staggering $334.2 billion, and in the process that supported 2.5 million jobs.
The first casualties when an entire industry has been crushed is the loss of jobs, and the Labor Department said already over a million travel-related positions have disappeared since February. They break the data down further, showing 600,000 hotel jobs and 120,000 airline jobs have vanished.
With companies and employees adapting to working at home, many jobs will be lost forever, and, as far as business travel itself, Delta CEO Ed Bastian recently said by 2023, they forecast that business travel will only be around 70% of the pre-pandemic volume.
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in December that they assess by the end of 2021, overall business travel will be down between 50% and 60% of what it was like before the pandemic.