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Bye-Bye Business Class for PwC UK Partners

people crammed into economy class on an airplane, blue seats

In a move that’s being credited to both reducing carbon emissions and penny-pinching, FT is reporting that PwC UK has a new policy in place limiting business class work flights. Announced to senior staff in October, the new rule means partners and directors can choose business class tickets only for long red eye or “business-critical” flights and are otherwise expected to fly premium economy regardless of length of the flight.

Adds FT:

It comes as the Big Four accounting firms — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC — seek to trim costs and as large employers cut back on travel to reduce their carbon emissions, relying more on video calls to conduct meetings.

PwC has pledged to cut emissions from its operations to net zero by 2030. Business travel remains PwC UK’s single-largest source of carbon pollution, with flying accounting for more than two-thirds of the firm’s emissions in 2022.

Business-class seats have a higher carbon footprint than economy ones because they take up more room and are more frequently empty.

Right but they cost more. In money, not emissions. And money seems to be tight the the King’s PwC.

Just a few weeks back it was reported, again by FT, that PwC UK would ask 500-600 staff to voluntarily resign. Should they not leave by choice, the firm would resort to laying them off. So yeah, money is tight.

Relevant reaction to the new flight rule from FlyerTalk forums:

“It’s bizarre when partnerships do this. When I was a partner in a PE firm we had no real rules – all J, everywhere, and £300 hotel per diem (which with inflation would now be £500+) – because it was a partnership and it was our money, so what?”

“J” = business class

PwC partners’ money.

PwC UK imposes restrictions on business-class travel [Financial Times]