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The number of people travelling from Belgium for professional reasons has once again started to pick up after the coronavirus crisis resulted in a major drop in corporate travel.

Belgian airline company Brussels Airlines noted a weekly increase in bookings of 30 to 40% in the last month and is expecting companies to ease restrictions in their travel policies as of October, despite many multinationals still applying a (partial) teleworking policy.

“Brussels Airlines expects that the demand for corporate travel will reach the level of 2019 again by 2024. The demand for leisure travel on the other hand has recuperated much faster,” a press release stated.

Based on the company’s data, the sectors that started up corporate travel first are the European and other political institutions, universities and the Marine business, later followed by the automotive industry, international construction companies and building material producers and NGOs.

At the moment, European destinations, including Italy (Milan), Slovenia (due to it holding the EU Presidency), Denmark (Copenhagen), Czech Republic (Prague), Germany (Berlin) are among the most popular for business trips.

In the first 24 hours after the announcement by the United States government on Tuesday that it would be easing travel restrictions on travel from the EU, allowing vaccinated and tested travellers to enter the country again from November, the company noted a booking increase of 180% to US destinations.

However, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis, the continuation of business trips, at least in and from the US, between 19% and 36% of all business trips that were made before the pandemic is likely to disappear permanently, in part due to the fact that many businesses have adopted more (cost-) efficient alternatives to corporate travel.

Instead, it found that many organisations are pushing for video conference calls to replace in-person meetings and visits, also in an effort to cut carbon emissions and, at least in the short-term, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Before the pandemic, corporate travellers usually booked their trips two to three weeks in advance, however, the Brussels’ Airlines’ customer data showed that the trend of last-minute bookings has also resulted in trips being books just two to three days before people’s departure.

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