Brussels Airlines has recorded a slight increase in business trips from Belgium since mid-August. With weekly bookings increasing between 30 and 40%, the airline expects to welcome approximately 28.000 business passengers from Brussels in September. While business travelers normally book two to three weeks in advance, the trend of last-minute bookings since the start of the coronavirus crisis has changed the booking time to just two to three days before their travel date.

Increasing demand for business travel

Some industries are resuming business travel faster than others. The first sectors to pick up business travel again are European and other political institutions, universities and the Navy, followed by the automotive industry, international construction companies and manufacturers of building materials. NGOs and insurance companies that carry out repatriations also represent a significant part of Brussels Airlines' business customers. Although many multinationals still have a (partial) work-from-home policy, the airline expects its large corporate customers to relax their travel policy as of October.

Popular Business Destinations

The main destinations for business travelers are mainly European destinations such as Italy (Milan), Slovenia (due to the EU presidency), Denmark (Copenhagen), Czech Republic (Prague), Germany (Berlin), Austria (Vienna), Switzerland (Geneva), Spain (Madrid & Barcelona) & Portugal (Lisbon).

With the relaxation of travel restrictions imposed by the US government, allowing fully vaccinated EU passengers to enter the US smoothly, Brussels Airlines expects a rising demand for business travel to the United States. In the first 24 hours after the announcement of the end of the travel ban, Brussels Airlines recorded a booking increase of 180%. The Belgian airline will offer 4-week flights to New York JFK during the winter season.

Throughout the crisis, the African network remained vital to the airline for both VFR traffic and business travel by NGOs and other companies. Brussels Airlines expects business travel demand to return to 2024 levels by 2019. Demand for leisure travel, on the other hand, is recovering much faster.

Extra flexibility remains key

The airline also sees that flexibility is more important than ever for business customers. That is why Brussels Airlines has launched special offers for companies during the pandemic. For SMEs, Brussels Airlines and the Lufthansa Group offer a corporate bonus program called Partner Plus Benefit. The company earns points that can be used towards a wide selection of attractive prizes, such as free tickets, upgrades, lounge access and more.

To boost business travel again, the Lufthansa Group, including Brussels Airlines, is offering double points across the entire network until the end of the year. More information and a free subscription to the program can be found at: www.partnerplusbenefit.com. During the pandemic, the Belgian airline also launched the most far-reaching flexible concept on the Belgian market, called “Pay-As-You-Fly”.

The 'Pay-As-You-Fly' product offers process benefits that go far beyond the journey itself based on the concept: “book -> fly -> pay”. As before, contracted business customers can make their reservation through their preferred booking channel, namely their designated travel agency or their online business booking system. The airline tickets for all confirmed segments will be issued 24 hours before departure. 

The main difference with a traditional booking is that the payment is only activated after the guest has boarded the flight. From that moment on, the ticket price will be debited from the company credit card. If the 'Pay-as-you-fly' ticket is not used, ie the passenger has not checked in, it will be canceled automatically. The payment card is therefore not debited. Basically, no invoices are sent or payments are processed if travel plans change or are cancelled. Over the past two years, flexibility has become even more of a necessity for the customer. With these products, Brussels Airlines wants to adapt to the needs of its passengers, according to Brussels Airlines.

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