U.S. airlines face end of business travel as they knew it

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Impact of virus threatens industry’s engine of sales, profit

Road warriors turn to video conferences while CEOs eye budgets.

U.S. passenger totals plummeted more than 95% at the peak of the pandemic-related travel collapse.

U.S. airlines hammered by the catastrophic loss of passengers during the pandemic are confronting a once-unthinkable scenario: that this crisis will obliterate much of the corporate flying they’ve relied on for decades to prop up profits.

“It is likely that business travel will never return to pre-Covid levels,” said Adam Pilarski, senior vice president at Avitas, an aviation consultant. “It is one of those unfortunate cases where the industry will be permanently impaired and what we lost now is gone, never to come back.”

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The future of travel? A self-driving mobile hotel room

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Imagine taking a road trip and never having to stop for a food or bathroom break.

Steve Lee, a designer at Toronto-based Aprilli Design Studio, has come up with an idea that could make that happen: The Autonomous Travel Suite.

Think of it as a hotel room on wheels. The driverless mobile suite would have a sleeping area with mattresses, washroom facilities with a toilet and sitting shower, a space for working or entertaining, and a small kitchen. It could fit up to five people.

“It’s basically a hotel room so it has everything inside it,” he says. “Whether it’s six hours or 10 hours, you’ll feel comfortable inside it.”

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