American Express Says Airfares Hit Record Levels

It’s no surprise that the high fuel prices, which led to capacity reductions and tighter ticketing restrictions, increased the average airfares paid by business travelers, according to American Express Business Travel Monitor data just released. Record levels were hit in the second quarter, American Express says.

The data covers North American-based domestic and international airfares, and shows that companies are strengthening policy compliance strategies to manage travel and entertainment spending. They are also encouraging travelers to modify their behavior by purchasing tickets in advance and on lower classes of service when appropriate.

Additional Business Travel Monitor Findings

Oil prices, capacity constraints and ticketing restrictions drove up domestic airfare 10 percent year-over-year to an average one-way airfare paid of $260. The average international one-way airfare paid during the second quarter of 2008 reached its highest level since 1999, at $1,980 with an 11 percent increase over the same period in 2007.

The American Express Business Travel Monitor tracks airfares captured across hundreds of domestic and international routes.  The average fare paid is the one-way average paid by all business travelers booked by American Express Business Travel, and includes a variety of fare types, including first class, unrestricted and discount airfares.

“External market forces continue to pressure business travel budgets at the same time that high fuel costs push travel prices to new highs,” said Hervé Sedky, vice president and general manager of global advisory services for American Express Business Travel. “As companies increasingly view travel as an investment in their business, we are helping our clients adjust to manage their travel programs in a disciplined way by incorporating best practices and optimizing policy guidelines and compliance strategies.  These efforts are designed to maximize spending efficiency and increase the return on investment.”

The American Express Business Travel Monitor also found that travelers were cutting back on premium seating


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