ARC: 2023 Travel Agency Air Ticket Sales Could Be Record-Setting

Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) last week released data showing that U.S. travel agency air ticket sales totaled $8.7 billion in April 2023, a 13 percent year-over-year increase. April was also the fourth consecutive month where sales exceeded $8 billion. Even better: Sales for the first four months of the year were at the highest level seen since the same period in 2019.

On the flip side, the average U.S. round-trip air travel ticket price sold in April declined for the second straight month: The April 2023 average ticket price ($551) was lower than April 2022 ($585), marking the first time monthly average ticket price declined year-over-year since February 2021.

Despite the year-over-year increase in ticket sales, April 2023 was down 9 percent compared to March 2023, with domestic trips down 8 percent and international down 11 percent. Compared to April 2022, however, international trips last month were up 11 percent.

Ancillary sales increased 70 percent year-over-year to $25,161,935. Ancillary transactions increased 63 percent to 365,851 over the same period.

“Monthly sales totals through the first four months of 2023 point to a potentially record-setting year for travel agency air ticket sales,” said Steve Solomon, chief commercial officer at ARC. “Despite slight month-over-month declines in sales and passenger trips, corporate and leisure air ticket purchases continue to outpace 2022 levels and international travel demand remains strong.”

When potentially comparing 2023 to the highwater mark set in 2019, sales figures are seemingly led by price, rather than volume of trips. When compared to 2019, according to ARC’s sales statistics page, fares are pacing just ahead of those in 2019 ($27.514 billion in 2023 vs. $27.509 billion in 2019 through April of each year); however, when you filter for passenger trips, 2023 is still well behind 2019 levels: 95.7 million trips through April in 2023 compared to 110.4 million in 2019.

Ticket sales are based on monthly sales data ending April 30, 2023, from 10,448 U.S. retail and corporate travel agency locations, satellite ticket printing offices and online travel agencies. Ancillary sales include fees for products and services such as upgraded seats, checked bags, an unaccompanied minor, pet-in-cabin, etc.

Source: ARC

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