Africa is leading the charge in the comeback of business travel - report

Passengers on a flight that is booked to full capacity. Picture: Supplied.

Passengers on a flight that is booked to full capacity. Picture: Supplied.

Published Nov 22, 2023


The latest FCM Consulting Global Quarterly Trend Report revealed that Africa leads the way in business travel, which is set to bounce-back with the highest predicted increase in airline seat capacity for the first quarter of 2024.

According to the report, seat capacity in Africa will see a predicted increase of 14% in Q1-2024 when compared to 2019. The report also predicts that the Middle East will be up 11%, Latin America will see an 8% increase, 8% for the US, 7% increase for Asia and 2% decrease for Australasia and Europe.

“Worldwide, Q1-2024 is forecast to see +71.8 million (+5.3 per cent) more seats (both domestically and internationally) than 2019, for the same period. The final 2023 seat capacity is forecast to be -2.2 per cent on 2019,” said the report.

According to FCM Consulting, one of the biggest impediments to recovery so far has been lack of airline capacity and competition And while conditions are gradually improving, the concern remains regarding the lack of available seats on services between Australia and Europe, via the Middle East.

The business travel consulting company said that fares are still under pressure and are predicted to rise between 3% and 8% in 2024 as a result of fuel, cost recovery, sustainability and fleet upgrades.

“When it comes to accommodation, hotel occupancy levels averaged 68% per month in 2023. Over the past six months, corporate average room rates (ARR) have plateaued, signalling rate stability,” said FCM report.

It also highlighted that hotels are forcing 3% to 8% rate rises for 2024 and to counter rises, and reduce travel budget impacts, FCM has started making positive programme shifts for clients, including changing accommodation options to keep within budget with lower star ratings and consolidating suppliers for leverage.

“In terms of car hire, the overall global average daily rate (ADR) has increased by 4% year to date in 2023 compared to 2022. The ADR forecast is rate increases will stabilise to increase 2% to 3% in 2024,” said the report.

Commenting on these findings, Bonnie Smith, the general manager for FCM for Southern Africa, said it’s clear that Africa is really leading the charge in the comeback of business travel.

“This significant uptick in airline seat capacity speaks volumes about Africa’s dynamic role in the global market and its untapped potential,” she said.

“At FCM, we’re not just keeping pace; we’re thinking ahead. We’re committed to innovating and adapting to this exciting landscape, ensuring our clients can navigate these changes seamlessly and capitalise on the abundant opportunities that Africa’s growth presents,” said Smith.