Airline flatliners

It is widely believed that the travel industry has been recovering from the recession, and we share in that belief, but we're not getting a full-throated confirmation from the airline industry, and that has us a little concerned.

For the 12 months ending in September, U.S. airline scheduled traffic barely increased 1 percentage point, and while you could call this "growth," it was hardly robust.

ARC happily reported the other day that the dollar value of agency ticket sales increased 3%, to $85 billion, in 2012, which sounds like good news, but ARC also noted that total segments booked declined slightly. Total transactions fell a half-point, after dropping 2% in 2011. So while the dollar value of agency air activity is on the rise, agency ARC activity does not appear to be.

The airlines, of course, appear to be happy with a scenario of modest capacity growth and rising fares. It's better for the bottom line than fare wars and jousting for market share. We get that. Still, it would be nice to see some airline and ARC stats confirming a broad surge in demand.

Maybe next month ...
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