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Discount airlines edging in on business travel sector

Friday, December 7, 2012

Discount airlines edging in on business travel sector

Many executives are choosing to stay in serviced apartments and corporate suites in an attempt to save money without compromising on quality. However, in a bid to further reduce the cost of business travel, some executive travel management professionals are insisting that frequent fliers use low-cost airlines to save money. Many discount airlines are attempting to capitalize on this growing trend by offering services aimed at business travelers.

Revolutionizing coach class
Aviation newsletter FirstClassFlyer.com predicts that the introduction of new loyalty programs will transform the way that executives view corporate flights. The website recently highlighted a new category of flights that could offer business travelers the service they expect at prices that are sure to please even the most demanding travel management professional.

Known as "EasyUp" fares, these flights offer seats on planes for the same price as a coach ticket, with the option of upgrading to first-class for a fraction of the typical cost. The program is currently being trialed by U.S. carrier Delta Airlines, and could save executives between 50 and 70 percent off the cost of typical business-class flights.

EasyUp fares are currently available from cities including Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles and New York. A round-trip flight from New York to Dublin, for example, could cost as little as $1,222 using EasyUp fares, a considerable saving on the typical cost of a business class seat on this route.

Untapped markets
In Europe, discount airlines are attempting to woo business travelers with reduced rates. According to AirWise, Lufthansa's discount arm Germanwings is set to introduce a reduced-cost service aimed at business travelers in July of next year. Aviation experts claim that the introduction of the new service is a direct response to increasing competition between European discount airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair.

"Business travelers now are being ordered to fly economy class by their companies," said Thomas Winkelmann, chief executive officer of Germanwings, as quoted by the news source.

While the new fares will be substantially cheaper than typical business-class flights, many of the additional services that executives have come to expect will not be included, such as priority airport check-in, a la carte dining options, additional luggage allowances and access to first-class lounges.

For some frugal business travelers, choosing to stay in corporate apartments may no longer be enough for discerning travel management professionals. As a result, the popularity of these discount services could rise in the coming years.