A significant impact of COVID-19 on business travel.
COVID-19 has considerably changed the travel habits of professionals. 68.8% of respondents to the survey expressed difficulties in travelling since COVID. In fact, 38.7% of respondents described these trips as "very difficult or extremely difficult to organise".
The most difficult trips to organise are those between secondary or medium-sized cities, from province to province. Survey participants stressed the difficulty of travelling directly between regions, which was already the case before the crisis, but which has become even more difficult since. The obstacles to mobility are diverse: reduction in the number of airlines, cancellations, inability to eat, cancellation of appointments for fear of coming into contact with the virus, etc. Travelling has not been easy over the past year.
Professionals are relatively optimistic about the recovery of mobility after the health crisis.
More than half (50.3%) of the respondents believe that the difficulties mentioned above will be resolved after COVID.
It is surprising that so many people think that the transport situation will return to normal after COVID. Indeed, most indicators show the opposite: on the one hand, the current health situation will continue for several months and we should continue to alternate between successive phases of containment and decontainment; on the other hand, a large part of the removed lines will probably not reopen. Transport will therefore probably never return to its pre-crisis situation and this study tends to show that the majority of people are not yet fully aware of this.
Nevertheless, 27% still think that travel will remain "complicated or very complicated". This concern relates in particular to travel between secondary cities (province-province), which we have mentioned, as many domestic routes, particularly air routes, have been cancelled because of COVID and will not resume after the crisis.
The law project to prohibit the creation of air links for journeys that can be made in less than two and a half hours by train is also causing many companies to fear an increase in the isolation of regions with little or no service.
Many travel needs for professionals.
Another interesting figure: on average, professionals estimate their need to travel more than 300km at 2 per month (28 per year on average), the median being around 15 trips of more than 300km per year. This reveals a real need for mobility and shows that despite the rise of digital technology (notably video-conferencing), human contact and therefore physical travel remain essential to business.
Among the means of transport envisaged, the car and the train remain the preferred means of transport for short journeys, but for journeys of more than 300 km, the plane is most often mentioned.
The use of private aviation is envisaged... but hardly ever implemented.
In order to cope with a situation of severely degraded transport, many professionals have considered using a private plane for their travels (76.7% of respondents to the survey!). The possibility of travelling in a flexible manner, on demand, by reducing the number of contacts, has obviously attracted people in this period of crisis.
However, in reality, fewer of them have actually done so: only 28.2% of respondents have actually rented a plane to make these trips. The main reason for this "failure to move from intention to action"? The idea that professionals have of the price of hiring a private plane.
"Renting a plane is expensive": the main obstacle to the use of private aviation.
While everyone agrees on the benefits of travelling by private plane, professionals are generally reluctant to take the plunge because of the price they think the service will cost. 60% of respondents to our survey felt that renting a private plane did not fit into their company's budget.
However, it is interesting to note that on an example of a journey already made using the OpenFly portal, namely a 500 km journey, in 1h10, with an overall budget of €1900 excluding VAT for 4 employees, only 31.9% of respondents considered the price too high... 47.2% considered it acceptable and 20.8% even described it as "affordable". This suggests that the more affordable prices offered on OpenFly may be driving increased use of this type of service.
The arrival of electric aircraft in light aviation: a change that will boost the use of this mode of transport
The very rapid arrival of electric aircraft on the light aviation market (today's pilots are already training on certified electric aircraft, more information on www.aerolease.green) is arousing interest among professionals. 45.4% of them believe that they will use private aviation more once these aircraft are available for business flights (within 2 to 3 years).
The reasons are twofold: ecological awareness (travelling by electric plane reduces the carbon footprint) but also a more affordable price, as electric planes have lower operating costs than current planes!
Conclusion: private aviation is a means of transport for the future
Even after the pandemic, it is likely that the transport offer will remain degraded. The vast majority of the routes that were cancelled will not be reopened.
However, this situation is not as detrimental to travel as one might imagine. Travel is still possible, with certain rules.
In the future, due in particular to the emergence of increasingly efficient means of telecommunication, we can imagine that travel will be more punctual than regular and that modes of transport will have to adapt to this new situation. Mass transport seems to have died out, at least on domestic routes. Private aviation, which is increasingly being considered, already has many advantages for professionals but is still held back by its cost, which is not yet considered affordable enough.
However, the imminent arrival of electric aircraft with lower maintenance costs should change the situation and contribute to the democratisation of this mode of transport.