Research released from the 11th annual Barclaycard Business Travel Survey reveals that travellers are not swayed by the introduction of a premium economy class by some airlines, with the new product having little effect on traveller’s choice of cabin class.
The survey also reveals that British Airways is, for the sixth year in a row, the most trusted airline brand with almost half of business travellers (48 per cent) choosing to travel with the national flag carrier. Despite recent threats of strike action and continued intense media attention over the past 12 months, BA’s popularity increased by one per cent on the previous year. Second most popular is Virgin Atlantic, which has regained its position after losing out to easyJet in last year’s results.
The 11th Barclaycard Business Travel Survey canvassed more than 4000 business travellers across the country and builds a comprehensive picture of the UK’s business traveller, gauging views on business travel and travel behaviour.
Despite the heavy investment of some airlines in premium economy products, it seems to have had little affect on business travellers with the majority of travellers remaining in the lower cost classes. This year’s research found that standard economy is the most popular class with nearly half of business travellers (46 per cent) - an increase of three per cent on the previous year. The research found the increase in standard economy came at the expense of business class travel. In 2006, 14 per cent of business people said they travelled most by business class - down by three per cent from 2005.
When asked whether the introduction of premium economy had had an effect on their business travel plans an overwhelming majority of business travellers stated that it had no effect. Of those polled more than three-quarters (78 per cent) stated that the introduction by some airlines had no effect, with only 15 per cent admitting it had encouraged them to upgrade their travel purchase from economy classes and just 4 per cent saying it had led to them downgrading their class.
Denise Leleux, Director of Commercial Cards, Barclaycard Business, said: “The introduction by some airlines of a premium economy class does not seem to have encouraged business travellers to either “buy up” or “buy down” - where passengers move from standard economy or business class to premium economy. The results suggest that despite the heavy investment in premium economy services by some airlines, business travellers seem reluctant to change from the class they are used to.”
Despite the difficulties experienced by British Airways over the last 12 months the research found that business travellers remain extremely loyal to the national flag carrier. Of the 48 per cent of business travellers who chose BA as their preferred airline, nearly half (47 per cent) said it was because they trusted or liked the brand, with over a third (37 per cent) saying it was because of airport convenience and almost a third (32 per cent) stating that it was because of their breadth of network. Company policy appears to have little impact on a business traveller’s choice of airline with only five per cent saying their choice of British Airways was down to their company’s travel policy.
Another finding from the survey was that frequent flyer schemes and air mile incentives were not major influencing factors for business people when it came to choosing an airline to fly with. Only 2 per cent of travellers stated that these schemes influence their choice of airline.