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Carlson Wagonlit Travel's United Kingdom-based
customers made a sharp return to business class in 2010, according to figures
shared with BTN. Total air
transactions for CWT UK clients in 2010 climbed 5 percent year over year, but total
bookings in business class surged 20 percent, including increases of 28 percent
on transatlantic routes, 19 percent on routes within Europe and 22 percent on
other long-haul routes.
"Announcements of the death of business
class in Europe were a little premature," said Nigel Turner, CWT's U.K. and
Ireland director of program management. "Although some organizations are
not using it anymore, others left it in their policy and they are now traveling
more." The financial services sector in particular has shown a strong
travel demand rebound after being one of the first to cut during the 2008 downturn.
Though there has been much speculation that network
airlines would eliminate business class on short-haul routes, owing to price
competition from low-cost carriers and weaker corporate demand, Turner said: "Some
companies did not change their short-haul business-class policy because of
pressures to retain the best staff in their industry sector." At the same
time, he added, there has been little sign that companies that eliminated
short-haul business class are allowing it back into their policies.