During the economic downturn, many companies required their corporate travelers to fly coach to reduce costs. The International Air Transport Association said many of those business travelers might not return to business-class cabins. "Premium fares are absolutely critical for airlines, and this will heighten fears that the market may never return to the same level," said John Strickland of JLS Consulting. "It looked like we might see a structural shift when business travel fell off after 9/11, and it seems even more likely this time."

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