Air Travel Demand Falls Fifth Month in a Row
The Air Transport Association of America reported that passenger revenue fell 23 percent in March 2009 versus the same month in 2008 – the fifth consecutive month in which passenger revenue has fallen from the prior year.
March passenger traffic on U.S. airlines fell by 10 percent, while the overall cost to fly one mile fell by 13 percent. Declines extended beyond the mainland United States to transatlantic, transpacific and Latin markets. (Source: Air Transport Association press release).
Airlines Cut Fares
JetBlue Airways trimmed $100 off some of its nonrefundable fares. Air France introduced a lower priced business “leisure” fare for the summer and Continental Airlines cut BusinessFirst fares to Asia. JetBlue dropped nonrefundable fares from $599 to $499 on 24 of its transcontinental routes.
Air France is offering a 60-day advance purchase business fare to 25 popular destinations in Europe and the Middle East. Sample roundtrip fares: New York-Paris, $2,222, Houston-Madrid, $2,622 and Chicago-Zurich, $2,458. Continental is now offering fares from the New York area to Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo starting at $3,076. (Source: Air France, Continental, JetBlue press releases).
Delta, Northwest Merge Frequent Flyer Programs in SkyMiles Card
A marketing campaign to build awareness for the SkyMiles cards in key Delta hubs that were formerly Northwest hubs within the U.S. including Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Memphis.
The Northwest WorldPerks and Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer programs are merging, but Northwest members will have to apply for a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card to continue earning miles both from credit card purchases and from flying. They are expanding benefits in the program, so that card members can earn and redeem miles in more ways and places, including the ability to earn double miles on all Delta and Northwest operated flights.
Gold and Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit card members and Delta Reserve card members, who now earn Double Miles on virtually every dollar of spend with Delta, can also earn Double Miles on all purchases made with Delta’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Northwest.
The Pay with Miles feature, which currently allows Gold, Platinum and Reserve card members to book Delta flights with no black-out dates or inventory restrictions on delta.com, will also be expanded to all Northwest-operated flights. (Source: press release).
Corporate America Curtails Travel to Mexico
Forty-seven percent of members of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) responding to a survey of the impact of the swine flu on their company’s travel said that their companies have restricted business travel to Mexico.
Three percent have restricted travel to the U.S. and Mexico, while 7 percent are restricting travel to any country with reported cases of H1N1 swine influenza. One percent reported restricting travel to the U.S. only. Forty-two percent are claiming no travel restrictions at all. Excluding travel to Mexico, only 11 percent of respondents cited travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association said airlines were prepared for dealing with swine flu, saying IATA has worked with WHO to prepare guidance materials for front-line staff at airlines, including cabin crew, maintenance workers, cleaners, passenger agents and cargo/baggage handlers. WHO advises there should be no restriction of regular travel or closure of borders.
It is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities. (Source: ACTE, IATA press releases).
Customs Deactivates Older NEXUS Cards
U.S. Customs and Border Protection canceled old NEXUS cards for current NEXUS members on May 1. CBP has been mailing new NEXUS cards, a card that simplifies border crossing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers, to all members since November. The new cards have enhanced security features and allow U.S. and Canadian citizen cardholders to comply with the documentary requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
All members must activate their new cards within 30 days, verify and update their U.S. mailing address by going to https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/.
NEXUS members should destroy their old cards after activating their new ones.
(Source: Customs press release).