In this week’s roundup, airlines and corporate travel managers report that a long-awaited revival of business customers is finally starting to happen; Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska will reduce their schedules as they struggle to add pilots and other employees for the summer travel boom – and to pacify restive labor groups; United, Delta and Air France bring back some international routes; French Bee starts flying to Los Angeles; United and Singapore expand their code-sharing arrangement; United plans to install Polaris seating in the one remaining widebody aircraft type that doesn’t yet have it; Elon Musk gets into the in-flight Wi-Fi business; Chicago O’Hare’s people-mover finally returns to full service; CLEAR’s expedited security lanes come to an eighth California airport; and Long Beach opens a new ticketing and check-in facility.
Leisure air travel has been rebounding strongly in recent months as COVID concerns wane and pent-up demand for vacations takes hold, but what the airlines really want to see is a revival of business travel, since it accounts for the bulk of their passenger revenues. And it looks like that is finally starting to happen. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), a trade group of corporate travel managers, summed up the results its April membership survey like this: “Business travel is surging forward, international travel is returning and despite new challenges, industry recovery is entrenched. In addition, corporate travel policies are undergoing a revamp and employees are broadly willing to travel for business.”