Businessmen and women, hit by the global financial crisis, are cutting back on their trips and forcing airlines to either slash their prices or to reduce capacity, analysts said.
British Airways, which has 10 flights daily between the world's top two financial centers of London and New York, is among the worst hit carriers. "Longhaul premium traffic has softened after the summer and forward bookings are being affected by the increased anxiety in financial markets and by the uncertain economic outlook," it said in a review of traffic for September.
British Airways saw an 8.6% decrease in premium traffic and a 4.1% fall in non-premium traffic compared to the same month a year before, the airline said.
Lufthansa, the leading German airline which does about 14% of its passenger trade with companies, said business passenger numbers were down.
Air France-KLM in September saw the smallest monthly rise in traffic since the start of the year. The Franco-Dutch carrier does not publish its figures for business travellers.
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said this week that "weakening passenger demand, particularly for first and business class travel," was the biggest challenge facing the sector. "The next 12 to18 months will be extremely difficult times for airlines and some won't survive the current crisis."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008