Budget carriers tailoring products to lure business travellers

 A Jetstar passenger drops her luggage at the designated area at Changi Airport Terminal 1. Budget carriers are becoming more flexible to attract a growing number of business travellers.
A Jetstar passenger drops her luggage at the designated area at Changi Airport Terminal 1. Budget carriers are becoming more flexible to attract a growing number of business travellers. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Budget carriers are becoming more flexible to accommodate and attract a growing number of business travellers amid an economic slowdown.

There is no published industry data but an estimated 15 to 20 per cent of total travellers carried by Singapore budget carriers are business passengers, industry analysts said.

On some flights, especially early-morning departures from Changi Airport and evening arrivals, up to half of the passengers are corporate travellers, they said.

To attract even more of them, Jetstar on Friday (Sept 9) announced the launch of its new FlexiBiz product.

For an extra $32 on top of the usual fare, business travellers can enjoy perks like making a flight change on the same day of travel - subject to seat availability - up until check-in closes.

On top of the usual one piece of carry-on bag weighing up to 7kg, they are allowed one additional under-seat bag.

A credit voucher refund is also provided if a booking is cancelled, which must be used for a new booking within six months of issue.

Chief executive of Jetstar Asia Barathan Pasupathi said: "Asia is experiencing a savvy generation of cost-conscious corporate travellers who prefer to fly without the frills but are often required to make changes to their flights on the day of travel."

On some of Jetstar Asia's peak-hour flights to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Yangon and Hong Kong, a significant number of customers are budget-savvy business travellers, he said.

"We want to grow this segment further by offering a fare tailored to their needs" he added.

Jetstar Group spokesman Robin Goh said: "With the growth of budding entrepreneurs and small business owners, the mindset of the new business traveller has changed.

"Most companies have also become more practical, with tighter purse strings when it comes to duty travel," he said.

A spokesman for Scoot-Tigerair said that while key cities including Bangkok, Chennai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei are popular destinations for corporate travel, the airline has also seen growth in corporate travel bookings from Australia and China.

Mr Joseph Lew, 41, a director at Red Dot Robotics, said: "I take day trips to Hong Kong regularly and in these short-haul trips, flying a full-service carrier isn't the top priority. What is important is the schedule, that I get there on time and that the seat is comfortable."