Continental Airlines is looking to its corporate customers to increase their air travel, as business traffic is the key to the slumping airline industry’s recovery, according to the carrier’s chief executive, Larry Kellner.
Several months ago, business travel began its downward trend when turbulence hit the financial industry, and from that point problems for airlines have snowballed.
Overall, business travelers are the most profitable customers for an airline, as they frequently purchase premium-class seats and higher-priced last-minute fares. As these customers cut back on traveling, or stopped altogether, airlines cut ticket prices to fill seats with leisure travelers, meaning that the leisure sector became less profitable as well, Kellner noted.
The good news, according to Kellner, is that the demand for business travel turns on as quickly as it turns off.
He said: “We’re working our business (traveler) side very hard because clearly this is where we could also see a recovery much more quicker if we could get the business traffic back on the airplanes.”
Kellner made his comments in a discussion at New York investor conference held in New York this week. He added that airline regulation is not working well at this time, and that Continental would consider a consolidation with other airlines if Delta Air Lines becomes too powerful.
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