The number of passengers buying premium airline tickets increased in June as economic recovery kept first and business class seats filled, the airline industry body IATA has said.
Demand for premium tickets was up 16.6% compared with a year ago.
That contrasts with a 9.5% rise for economy seats, after recession and austerity measures in some countries dampened demand for leisure travel.
Increased passenger numbers and ticket prices lifted premium revenue by 40%.
The 230 members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) include American Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Lufthansa.
IATA expects airlines to return to the black this year, with profits of $2.5bn against earlier forecasts of a $2.8bn loss.
For the first half of 2010, even with the losses due to airspace closures in April, premium travel was up 11.9% and economy travel was up 6.3%. Total international passenger travel was up 6.8% in the first half of the year.
Strong business travel is driving both market segments during this upswing. Coincident indicators like world trade have been very strong, rising 18% in May and supporting similar growth in premium travel. Forward-looking indicators such as business confidence have been similarly positive. However, there has been some slippage in recent months which is consistent with expecting some deceleration in year-on-year travel growth rates in the second half of this year. Still weak consumer confidence suggests leisure travel will remain soft.