AmEx: Clients paid significantly more for air travel in Q2

The average one-way, domestic airfare paid by American Express Business Travel clients in the second quarter rose 10% year over year, to $260, according to the company’s Business Travel Monitor.

The $260 average fare paid was a seven-year high for the second-quarter, said American Express.

High fuel prices, which led many airlines to make capacity reductions and tighten ticketing restrictions, increased the average fare, said American Express. The fare increase spurred clients to buy more tickets in advance.

“During times when economic conditions are volatile, companies step up efforts to stress the importance of purchasing tickets in advance in order to use discount tickets in a negotiated travel program,” said Hervé Sedky, vice president and general manager of American Express Business Travel’s Global Advisory Services. “Our data shows that during the second quarter of 2008, 89% of tickets purchased were domestic discount coach fares; this shows that more travelers purchased tickets in advance.

“These subtle changes can translate into significant savings – 17% or more in some cases. Looking at the first six months of 2008, the companies that had travelers purchase 8 to 14 days in advance rather than zero to seven days in advance saved an average of $49 per segment.”

The average international fare paid for the second quarter of 2008 reached $1,980, a record for the Business Travel Monitor since its inception in 1999. The average international fare rose 11% over the same period in 2007.

Forty-nine percent of international purchases in the second quarter were business-class tickets. American Express said that’s the lowest percentage since the third quarter of 2004.

“As globalization continues to pull business travelers to international destinations, we advise our clients to focus on international travel-policy compliance,” said Sedky. “Strategies, including encouraging employees to take advantage of corporate discounts negotiated with preferred suppliers and trading down to lower classes of service when appropriate, are driving savings for our clients despite the difficult travel market.”

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