March 30 (Reuters) - Air New Zealand Ltd on Tuesday
reported domestic business travel has returned to 90% of
pre-pandemic levels, bucking a downward trend in many other
countries with more severe COVID-19 outbreaks.
Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said the
airline was "blown away" by the new data, noting it had
initially hoped to return to 70% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
"To recover to near normal levels this quickly really
reinforces the strength of our domestic network and the desire
of Kiwis to reconnect in person," she said in a statement.
The rebound is striking, given leading industry groups
expect business travel globally to take years to recover after
companies banned or severely restricted movements in an effort
to protect staff and save on costs, turning instead to
The Global Business Travel Association earlier this month
released a poll of companies from the United States, Europe and
Latin America that 69% had suspended most or all domestic
business travel, up 5 percentage points from February.
In contrast, Air New Zealand has added more seats, more
business-timed flights and brought on more crew to meet
increased demand. It has also reduced its top fares, meaning
customers booking at short notice will pay up to NZ$100
($70)less per seat, the airline said.
New Zealand has reported just 2,493 confirmed COVID-19 cases
and 26 deaths since the start of the pandemic, far fewer than
most other developed nations.
Don Braid, group managing director of New Zealand logistics
group Mainfreight, said the ability to return to face-to-face
meetings with customers had been positive for business.
(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; editing by Jane Wardell)