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FCM-logoIn a remarkable display of resilience, the global business travel sector is revving its engines, preparing for a significant upsurge in 2024. After weathering the storms of recent years, this sector’s comeback story is nothing short of sensational, marked by a predicted increase in seat capacity that harkens back to the industry’s golden days.

FCM Consulting’s latest Global Quarterly Trend Report, a cornerstone in industry insights, highlights an extraordinary surge in travel demand. The first quarter of 2024 alone is poised to witness a staggering 71.8 million (5.3%) increase in seat capacity (domestic and international) compared to the same period in 2019. This figure emerges as a beacon of optimism, contrasting the final seat capacity in 2023, which still lagged 2.2% behind pre-pandemic levels.

The geographical distribution of this growth paints a diverse and dynamic picture. Africa, often overshadowed in global travel narratives, is leading the charge with an anticipated 14% increase in air seat growth. The Middle East and North America are close on its heels, each expecting an 11% and 8% increase, respectively. Asia and Latin America are not far behind, contributing to this global resurgence. Europe, albeit lagging slightly, is also finding its footing.

A critical catalyst in this recovery trajectory has been the gradual easing of airline capacity and competition constraints. This development is vital given the ongoing challenges in securing seats on routes like Australia to Europe via the Middle East.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides further context with its August 2023 report. It details global Passenger Load Factors (PLF) standing at an impressive 84.6%, with domestic and international PLFs at 83.5% and 85.4%, respectively. The U.S., India, Brazil, Japan, and Australia lead the domestic PLF charts, while North America outperforms internationally.

Accommodation trends also mirror this upward trajectory. Hotel occupancy averaged 68% per month in 2023, with corporate average room rates (ARR) showing signs of stabilization. This stability is evident across key global regions, with North America leading the pack with an ARR of USD $250, followed by Europe, the Middle East/Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The car hire sector is not left behind, with a global average daily rate (ADR) increase of 4% year-to-date (YTD) in 2023 compared to the previous year. Forecasts for 2024 predict a stabilization in rate increases to around 2-3%.

This comprehensive report draws from FCM and Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate booking data and Cirium’s aviation schedule data, offering an in-depth look at the travel trends shaping the industry. It is a blend of meticulous data analysis and forward-looking projections, providing a roadmap for what could be the travel industry’s most defining year in recent history.

As business travel gears up for what could be its most significant year yet, the industry stands at a crossroads. It’s a moment that blends cautious optimism with tangible growth, promising a brighter and busier future for global travellers and the industry.




Written by: Anne Keam