New York: Business class air travel on international routes grew for the first time in nearly two years in December even as global trade gained momentum over the last quarter.
According to the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), the number of premium-paying passengers on international flights went up 1.7% in December as compared to a year ago. This, IATA said, marks the first growth in such sales since May 2008.
Sales of tickets in the premium category can be critical for the financial health of certain airlines operating on a large number of international sectors. British Airways (BA), Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United are particularly vulnerable to dips in this category.
BA, in particular, relies on premium class sales for a significant proportion of its profits.
International business class travel hit a low point in May 2009, when traffic plunged 25% year over year, according to IATA. A gradual pick-up in global trade since then has provided a significant boost to premium travel.
"It also looks as though the factors driving business travel are increasingly important for driving the number of passengers sitting on economy seats as well as premium," the IATA said.