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Hong Kong firms pay the most for business airfares

SCMP Sophie Yu
May 01, 2012

The cost of business travel airfares for Hong Kong firms is the highest in the world, a report by Concur, a US provider of travel and expense management services says.

In its second global report on corporate spending on travel and entertainment (T&E), Concur reveals that the average cost of airfare in Hong Kong is US$1,112, while in India it is US$263, the lowest in the world. The average spending on airfare globally is US$441, up 5.2 per cent from 2010.

Christopher Juneau, senior director of marketing for Asia-Pacific at Concur Technologies, said airfare costs were high in Hong Kong because much of the travel that originated in the city was transoceanic, though that was balanced by short hops to the mainland.

The findings, based on data from Concur’s corporate clients, represented more than US$50 billion in spending last year by firms in more than 100 countries.

“With fuel prices and the cost of air travel continuing to increase, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this cost increase as well” this year, Juneau said.

The report ranks the 10 largest categories of T&E spending and the most expensive cities for business travel. The top three global categories – airfare, lodging and dining – accounted for more than 60 per cent of total spending, compared with 50 per cent in 2010.

Concur does not recommend reducing the cost of business travel by cutting the number of trips.

“For companies, face-to-face interaction with potential and existing clients is still as important as ever. Studies show that most business travellers still prefer meetings to video conferencing,” Juneau said.

The report shows that the city outside the United States most visited by business travellers last year was London, followed by Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing and Toronto.

However, Juneau said, as the mainland economy slowed, it would be logical to assume that business trips to the mainland and to Asia will fall this year. “But employees of Hong Kong companies also travel to North America, Australia, Southeast Asia and Japan,” he said.

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