Domestic Airfares Hit New Highs for Business Travelers

New York -- Average domestic airfares for business travelers have hit their highest prices since the end of 2001, American Express reported yesterday.

The average ticket price business travelers paid for a one-way trip totaled $247 in the second quarter, up 13 percent over the same period last year, American Express Business Travel, the company's corporate travel management unit, said in its quarterly report.

Average one-way discount economy fares, which account for the majority of all domestic ticket purchases, rose to $101 in the second quarter, up three percent over the same period a year ago, according to the report, Business Travel Monitor.

Meanwhile, average business class fares showed the largest year-over-year fare increase, up 14 percent, to $358 one-way in the second quarter.

"Due to record-high load factors and high fuel prices, we've seen several domestic fare hikes in 2006, with most of the recent increases recorded in short-notice, business-type fares," said Frank Schnur, vice president of consulting for American Express Business Travel's Advisory Services.

The average international fare grew six percent, to $1,709, with discount economy airfares increasing nine percent, to $1,150, as compared to the second quarter of last year. For the same period, business class airfares also climbed six percent, to $4,088, while first class airfares rose four percent, to $6,000.

American Express Business Travel also reported steady increases in both domestic and international booked hotel rates in the second quarter. Average domestic booked hotel rates rose three percent, to $139, in the second quarter as compared to the same period last year. The average international booked hotel rate soared 11 percent, to $237--the highest increase in five quarters.

"Relatively slow supply growth is leading to high occupancy rates and more expensive rooms per night, especially in top business destinations where availability is already constrained," said Schnur.