Boston-based consulting firm Refine and Focus, which works on projects across the globe, was wary of paying for unnecessary trips even before the pandemic. Rising air fares and an inflationary spike in expenses have pretty much grounded the whole company.
“We have almost stopped traveling,” said Purnima Thakre, the firm’s co-head. “For any given project, I’d rather pay people better than spend that money on air tickets.”
Fares are fluid and some routes are more extravagantly priced than others. Delta Air Lines Inc. and IAG-owned British Airways Plc are charging more than $10,000 to fly London-New York return in business class next month, according to travel portal Kayak.
Return London-Sydney business-class flights with Singapore Airlines Ltd. are going for about $12,000. Nearer the top of the market, Qantas and United Airlines Holdings Inc. want more than $22,000 for premium return New York-Sydney seats.
The shift coincides with rising inflation and fears of a recession. Any rebound to pre-pandemic corporate travel spending of $1.4 trillion won’t come until 2026, according to the Global Business Travel Association. That’s up to two years later than the association previously expected.
More than ever, corporations are choosing flights based on price rather than airline loyalty programs in order to maximize travel budgets, said Martin Ferguson, head of public affairs for American Express Global Business Travel.