Friday 24 September 2021 7:04 am

Exclusive: Business bookings up two-thirds as Eurostar gears up for recovery

Eurostar’s boss hailed the return of the business market as new figures showed a significant uptick in September bookings.

Business travel was up 62 per cent in the first two weeks of September on the fortnight before, as a gradual loosening of travel restrictions and the return of in-person meetings drove increased passenger numbers.

Jacques Damas, Eurostar’s CEO, told City A.M. that he expected the upward trend to continue in the last three months of the year.

The firm has already upped its services in response to increased post-pandemic demand.

“We will continue to increase our timetable to respond to growing demand from our loyal business travellers and incentivise new ones to travel with us,” Damas said.

“Our immediate priority is working with governments towards simpler rules and tools to streamline and speed up the check in and border process across all of our markets,” he continued.

The figures suggest that reports of the much-discussed death of business travel may have been exaggerated.

Diplomatic stand-off

Eurostar were caught in a diplomatic stand-off earlier this year, with neither French or British governments seemingly keen to play a role in the firm’s survival when both effectively shut down cross-channel travel.

But Damas is looking forward to more positive Q4 and 2022, with climate at the heart of the firm’s work.

He believes Eurostar could well be at the vanguard of lower-carbon travel.

“The green agenda is playing an even more significant role in travel choice and is a key driver for both leisure and business passengers,” he told us.

“As the most sustainable option for short haul international travel, and as we launch our climate train to transport delegates to COP26 in Glasgow, we are committed to making it easier and simpler to travel further by high-speed rail.”

Read more: Eurostar ramping up services as London-Europe bookings jump by 98 per cent