Southwest Sees Business Travel Beginning to Recover
- In a downbeat week for Southwest (see labor section), there was some upbeat commentary about business travel. Dave Harvey, charged with generating more corporate business for Southwest, says he’s seeing a “nice pickup” in the segment. Speaking with Business Travel News, Harvey was careful to make clear that leisure travel is still more prevalent than business travel. But companies are indeed starting to relax their employee travel policies. Government travel is leading the recovery, with health care, transportation, and logistic companies also getting back in the air. Southwest continues to invest in its corporate travel division despite the crisis.
- Bloomberg News looks at some companies developing supersonic and even hypersonic planes for commercial use. Aerion, for one, partly owned by Boeing and soon to be based near Orlando, is working with GE Engines to build business jets that fly twice the speed of today’s typical commercial planes. “Our long-term vision is to allow people to travel between any two points on the planet within three hours,” says CEO Tom Vice.
Virgin Galactic, Boom, and Spike are three other companies with similar ambitions. Big technological obstacles remain though, most importantly getting the planes to fly economically at acceptable noise and emission levels. What’s the timetable for reviving the second age of supersonic travel? Aerion says it will have a business jet ready to deliver in 2027.
Last week, Colorado-based Boom unveiled its XB-1 prototype, which it hopes to start test flying next year. An actual passenger jet version is to follow in 2025, with first flights perhaps late this decade. Japan Airlines and the Virgin Group have committed to flying Boom’s aircraft when ready and available.