For airlines, however, it’s only half. Most of the profits made on long-haul flights are generated by a relatively small number of high-efficiency passengers, often traveling on business and therefore willing to pay more for a premium service. The financial contribution of leisure passengers, on the other hand, is negligible, even often negative, even though they occupy most of the seats and help cover part of the fixed costs.
It is business travel that risks being particularly vulnerable to the lasting effects of the Covid. Many companies have found that they can do a lot of their international business perfectly well on Zoom. There will always be a call for face-to-face contact, but for both budgetary and environmental reasons, many companies will be using the pandemic to cut air miles permanently.
Strickland foresees a “massive structural change” with airlines typically using smaller planes and a very different mix of cabin space of leisure, premium economy, business and first class.