Airlines Get a Boost From Business Travel’s Comeback



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Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at aviation’s surprise boost, Chase’s new perk, and Saudi Arabia’s luxury focus.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, May 17. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Airlines have recently gotten a big boost from a segment many airlines thought would continue to struggle — business travel, writes Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi. 

Delta Air Lines said corporate bookings were up 14% in the first quarter. Delta President Glen Hauenstein said 90% of the companies it surveyed said they plan to increase travel in the second quarter. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines both recorded significant increases in corporate bookings during the first quarter, with Alaska stating business travel for the carrier has fully recovered to pre-Covid levels. 

Next, Chase now offers its cardholders something its rivals and online travel agencies don’t — the opportunity to book Southwest Airlines flights through its own travel platform, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal. 

A Chase spokesperson said this week that cardholders are able to book Southwest flights on Chase Travel using points or cash. Cardholders who wanted to book Southwest flights in the past would’ve had to phone Chase Travel customer service. Schaal notes Southwest’s official website was the only place to book its flights for years, adding that online travel agencies that tried to offer Southwest flights received cease and desist letters. 

It’s uncertain though if other credit card companies will enable cardholders to book Southwest flights through their travel portals. 

Finally, Saudi Arabia is looking to attract 70 million international tourists annually by 2030. They can’t all stay in the luxury hotels that get so much attention, writes Middle East Reporter Josh Corder.

Fahd Hamidadin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, said that no more than 20% of visitors will be staying in four- or five-star hotels, adding that the real business of tourism is far from luxury. Indeed, an Accor executive said most people in the world are basically economy and mid-scale brand consumers. 

However, roughly 82% of the rooms in Saudi Arabia’s hotel pipeline are in the luxury and upscale categories, according to real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank.

Producer/Presenter: Jane Alexander



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