This afternoon, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Business Travel convened to discuss the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business travel sector.

Chaired by Stephen Hammond MP, Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA), Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), Graeme Elliott, Director Government Affairs and Sustainability, Virgin Atlantic and Simon Hawkins, Director of UK-US Sales, Virgin Atlantic addressed MPs from across the Commons on the pressing issues facing the business travel sector.

Clive Wratten opened the meeting highlighting the lack of business travel:

“It is not an exaggeration to say that as a sector, we are still in lockdown. We look enviously at the hospitality sector operating at 50% whilst understanding their frustrations. We are not even operating at 10% of pre-pandemic levels with no end to this crisis in sight.”

Suzanne Neufang followed, endorsing the BTA’s call for international protocols and an extension of furlough. Her speech highlighted the importance of the opening of a UK-US corridor:

“Globally, the UK has seen the sharpest contraction of business travel spend. The opening of the UK:US transatlantic routes is critical. The US is the UK’s largest single trading partner, accounting for 15.7% of UK exports in 2019. Similarly, the UK is one of the US’s most important trading partners. We must work together with the Atlantic Charter’s taskforce to get these routes open quickly and safely.”

At the conclusion of the APPG, Clive Wratten and Suzanne Neufang said jointly:

“UK:US relations are at a critical point. It is only with our two Associations joining together that we can keep momentum around the importance of business travel across the globe. Today’s APPG was an important step and we thank the MPs present for their dedicated support at such a difficult time. We look forward to further Government interactions on both sides of the Atlantic that will get us trading and doing business face-to-face once more.”