Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at some positive business travel news, Google’s expanding travel reach and Delta’s investment in air taxis.
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Business travel has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, but is making steady progress. Take United Airlines, which posted a surge in corporate travel bookings after Labor Day that lifted them to 70% of 2019 levels, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
Glenn Hollister, the company’s vice president of sales strategy and efficiency, said United sees no change in corporate booking activity for the rest of 2022. The Global Business Travel Association said it doesn’t expect the industry to make a full recovery until 2026.
Google then took a major step to make Google Maps an even more critical resource for trip planning. The tech giant announced Tuesday that it’s now expanding the Things to Do feature to Google Maps, Executive Editor Dennis Schaal reports in this week’s Online Travel Briefing.
Richard Holden, Google’s vice president of travel products, said travelers will be able to compare ticket prices for attractions, for example, on Things to Do on Google Maps. Google started showing ticket booking links in Google Search last year to help travelers quickly compare ticket prices between different partners.
In addition, Google said it is in the early stages of introducing links to Google Search for tours linked to attractions. Schaal cited a combined tour of the Vatican and the Colosseum as an example.
Finally, Delta Air Lines was hesitant to get involved in the growing electric air taxi market. But the Atlanta-based airline has finally joined the fray, with plans to invest up to $200 million in electric air taxi developer Joby Aviation, reports Rusell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
Delta will initially invest $60 million in Joby, which could increase to $200 million if Joby meets certain development milestones. The deal could put Delta on the market for electric air taxis as early as 2024. But Russell writes that the timing is suspect because of the uncertainty surrounding the certification of such aircraft.
Delta joins rivals such as American Airlines and United Airlines in the electric air taxi market amid an industry push to increase travelers’ trips to and from nearby airports. Delta and Joby plan to carry passengers in the Los Angeles and New York markets initially before expanding to other regions.