The decline in premium short-haul business travel was heightened by the last recession and is unlikely to ever return, a CAA report has concluded.

The UK aviation authority has released figures showing international business travel from the UK fell 22.2% in 2009, with the most marked decrease coming on short-haul routes.

Flying from London was also particularly hit with the proportion of business passengers in short-haul premium cabins at 5% in 2009, compared to 41% in 1996. 

Services to EU countries fell 25% and to the US by 20% and the level of business travel in the first half of 2010 remained 28% down on 2008 figures, the report revealed.

Harry Bush, the CAA’s director of regulation, concluded that the move away from short-haul business travel to economy and no-frills options had been accentuated by the recession.

He added: “As growth returns, business travel will revive, but it is an open question how far some of the economies made in the recession will permanently affect the way companies allow employees to travel.”

The CAA said the overall decline in business travel was above the level that could be attributed to the impact of the recession but expected demand to be maintained by emerging economies as the recovery continues.