US travel agencies report record flight sales despite soaring fares, driven by strong demand for international travel.
According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which manages transactions between airlines and US travel agencies, sales reached a new high in March, marking the second consecutive month of record sales, and a 15% increase from February. The revenue from air ticket sales in the same month was the largest ever recorded by the ARC at $9.6 billion, a remarkable 22% surge from the previous year. The growth was largely attributed to the thriving demand for international travel, as passenger trips increased by 15% and international trips rose by 14%.
In March, the ARC recorded a 4% YoY increase in passenger transactions settled, totaling 25.8 million. However, the number of international trips rose significantly higher, by 17%. Despite airfares being 10-15% higher compared to the previous year, ticket sales for US travel to Europe have shown a substantial increase. The average round-trip airfare price in March was $559, a 4% YoY growth.
ARC chief commercial officer Steve Solomon said: “ARC’s air travel ticket data supports what we’re hearing from airlines regarding strong spring and summer demand for corporate and leisure travel.”
He added: “A larger portion of summer demand is for top European destinations like London, Paris and Rome, which are showing significant year-over-year increases in air ticket purchases.”
The ARC also noted an impressive YoY increase of 127% in the value of airline ancillary sales made through agents, reaching almost $26.7 million. This growth was driven by a 60% surge in ancillary transactions in the month, totaling 373,000.
In terms of popular European destinations, US sales of flights to London rose by 63%, with Paris and Rome following closely behind with a 66% and 82% increase respectively. Rome topped the list as the most sought-after destination, with London ranking second, Paris third, Athens fourth, and Barcelona fifth. It’s worth noting that these figures do not include bookings made directly with the airlines.
Solomon said: “European destinations are significantly up year over year. This international demand is confirmed by the recent announcement by the US State Department regarding passport wait times given what they expect to be the busiest summer travel season on record. We expect to see steady growth in air travel throughout the rest of the year in both corporate and leisure travel.”