When a meeting host foots the bill for attendee travel, air-travel prices have a direct effect on the bottom line and often on the destination selection. And when attendees pay their own way, airfares impact the affordability of an event and may make attendance more or less feasible for them.
Whichever the case, the just-released Air Monitor 2024 from American Express Global Business Travel Consulting has welcome news for event organizers: flattening airfares for the year ahead.
“Supply and demand are finding equilibrium as airlines add capacity and the leisure demand that drove record carrier revenues in 2023 softens,” writes Dan Beauchamp, head of consulting for Amex GBT, in the report. “Air fares are set to stabilize, with prices falling on some routes.”
The Monitor forecasts both business- and economy-class airline pricing regionally, taking into account passenger- and airline-capacity data, inflation forecasts, and other factors from Amex GBT data as well as from the International Air Transport Association, Cirium Diio, and the International Monetary Fund.
The expected percentage changes to airfares are versus 2023 prices:
Within North America
Business class: +0.8%
Economy class: +0.3%
Between North America and Europe
Business class: +0.3%
Economy class: -2.5%
Between North America and Asia
Business class: -3.6%
Economy class: -6.5%
Between North America and South America
Business class: -1.1%
Economy class: +0.2%
Business class: +1.1%
Economy class: +1.0%
The full report also has predictions for airfares within Asia, Australia, and the Middle East, and between all regions.
The report commented on the moderating airfares for the North America–Europe and North America–Asia routes, noting expected capacity changes: “North Atlantic traffic was a significant factor in U.S. airlines’ strong results in the second and third quarters of 2023,” the report states. “The Big 3 carriers all plan to push more capacity into this air flow for summer 2024; United Airlines and Delta have both announced plans to operate their ‘largest-ever’ transatlantic summer schedules in 2024. American Airlines’ flight schedule for summer 2024 is expected to significantly improve connectivity between Europe and North America.”
“There is a similar story on North America to Asia [fares]; after a strong showing in 2023, carriers are looking to Asia as a source of high-margin revenue. The Big 3 carriers will rapidly add seats in 2024; we expect to see significant price reductions on flights to Asia from the North America point of sale.”
While the Air Monitor paints a generally favorable view of 2024 airfares, it also has warnings about factors that could make the landscape less favorable next year. “Even as we see signs of moderation, the wider outlook is uncertain,” Beauchamp writes. “Geopolitical tensions could spill over into the global economy, dampening already moderate growth prospects. The world’s carriers continue to face headwinds. Cost pressures—most notably fuel, wage bills [that could lead to higher labor rates], and debt-servicing costs—could weigh on airlines’ balance sheets.”