Monday Insight – July 12, 2021

Actually, The Business Travel Decline Isn’t All CCP-Covid Related…

Return of Business Travel Demand?

It Was Declining Before The CCP Created This Pandemic

Far be it from us to in anyway to give a break to the criminal thugs running China, who are 100% responsible for the global pandemic. (Gotta problem with that? Contact us for facts that some folks in the media are too timid – or corrupt – to discuss.)

But a lot of the hoopla about how business travel will or will not recover to pre-CCP-Covid levels is way off the mark… and it needs to be recognized that the application air travel as a communication channel has changed. As a result, in some applications, the process of air travel is woefully obsolete in regard to exchanging data, concepts and ideas – i.e., many of the reasons people used air travel.

Air Is No Longer Universally As Efficient As Other Channels. We cover this in the latest Aviation Unscripted video. There are two core reasons people use air travel. One is for leisure – to get to the mountains or beach or cruise ship.

The other is for communication. I.e., the need to exchange ideas with others. This includes both business travel and – missed in most analyses – personal travel that does not directly relate to simply going to the beach or fishing or whatever. Personal travel to events that have no alternative communication options – the wedding, the meeting with attorneys, the graduation, the periodic visit to family.

It doesn’t take more savvy than knowing how to spell “zoom” to understand that today a lot of the air travel necessary in the past is now totally non-competitive with other emerging channels of communication. When a video meeting can accomplish the same results as an on-site interaction, it’s pretty clear that it’s enormously more cost-effective, and in some cases more results-effective.

The Trend Has Been Growing For A Decade. But this is NOT the result of the criminal actions of the CCP in inflicting a pandemic on the globe… this dynamic – the replacement of air travel with more effective means of business communication – was in progress long before most people in the USA had ever heard of Wuhan.

We took a gander at the changes in traffic in what can be described as predominantly business markets – particularly short-haul markets – in the ten years between 2000 and 2019. Earth to analysts – the decline in use of air travel for business communication purposes has been in full atrophy mode in many markets for years.

Let’s look at a couple typical markets…

In these six markets, travel has declined over 30% in the last ten years. To be clear, there are some exceptions, but these are typical of the changes in air transportation as a communications channel in short-haul markets.

It gets more apparent when we look at some once-vibrant secondary commuter markets in the Northeast. We looked at 2019 reported O&D and compared it to estimated traffic levels in 1980, based on known airline schedules in each market. (Back then, what were then independent commuter airlines in markets like these sometimes really didn’t care much about reporting on the 298-C schedule. The feds had no real concern about enforcement.)

These were, back then, markets that filled a clear communication need. People did need to get to ISP from ALB, such as government officials between the state capital and county offices in Suffolk and Nassau. There was a community of interest between Presque Isle that was met by nonstop flights to and from Boston.

It’s gone, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s consultants won’t bring it back.

The point of this is to recognize that air travel is, again, a communication modality that competes with other emerging ways business interacts.

Bottom line: A lot of business travel was declining and being supplanted by superior and more cost-effective ways of communication long before the CCP-pandemic, which has just accelerated and illuminated the process.

This is a critical new dynamic for communities reviewing their air service access programs. Independent commuter airlines operating their own “turf” are long gone. The need to exchange papers at a one-on-one meeting is no longer the only way of communicating. The name of the future game in most cases is access to and from the rest of the globe.

Whole New Air Access & Communication Planning Is Needed. At Boyd Group International, we’ve built our business on recognizing tough emerging challenges.

In 1980, for example, an independent commuter airline could operate at Presque Isle and connect to over half a dozen interline carriers at Boston. That system is gone. Combined with the increasing inefficiency of a lot of short-haul air travel, that presents challenges to markets such as PQI that yet another leakage study will do not much more than contribute to the local landfill.

New communications modalities are now in place, and it’s critical that regional and rural communities – as well some not-so-rural places – look to innovation, not attempts to recreate past air systems that today simply do not fill a material consumer demand.

If your community is looking to address the future, write ours down, or send us an email.

We’re into the future… not trying to recreate the past.


Log on the last week’s Aviation Unscripted video to get a wider perspective of how we’re entering uncharted and very bumpy territory in the next 12 months. Click here.

And, do log on this Thursday… we’re planning another Vox Deorum session on Unscripted.

This week it well be with Boom Technologies – and we’re discussing the new Overture supersonic airliner that’s already been ordered by United and Japan Airlines.

This will be a game changer. Join us this Thursday!