American said total business travel demand is now 80 percent back to 2019 levels, with small and medium-sized business revenue approaching a full recovery and revenue from large corporate clients back to around 50 percent of pre-Covid numbers.
CEO Robert Isom said during a first-quarter earnings call: “Corporate bookings are at the highest they’ve been since the onset of the pandemic, and we expect that to continue as more companies reopen their offices.
“We anticipate overall business revenue to be 90 percent recovered in the second quarter.”
American expects business travel and international demand to continue to return and anticipates being profitable in the second quarter, despite higher fuel prices, based on current demand trends and fuel price forecasts.
The company reported revenue of $8.9 billion in the first quarter of 2022, which was 16 per cent down on the same period in 2019. American still made a net loss of $1.6 billion for the quarter.
Meanwhile, United Airlines said it was “very bullish” on the recovery of business travel as it reported its first quarter earnings for 2022.
United’s chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said business travel revenue was currently down by 20 per cent compared with 2019 with a full recovery now in sight.
“Large corporations are now returning to travel at a faster rate than small businesses,” added Nocella. “After all the debates about the return of business traffic, it’s nice to see this important milestone in sight, even with many businesses not fully back in the office.”
Nocella said United should start benefiting from a “tailwind” when compared with more leisure travel-focused competitors.
“We will rely more on business as we exit the summer, and we have a high degree of confidence that will be perfectly fine,” he added.
United reported a net loss of $1.4 billion on revenue of $7.6 billion for the first quarter, which was down by 21 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2019.