US ticket sales still down but may be bottoming out
Airline ticket sales through the Arlington, Va.-based Airlines Reporting Corp. fell for a sixth straight month in June compared to the year-ago period, but the rate of annual decline slowed compared to May.
Total sales including airfares, taxes and fees were $5.73 billion, down 20.3% compared to June 2008, following a 29.1% year-over-year decline in May. Total fares fell 21.3% to $4.86 billion after dropping 30.9% in May. Domestic fares fell 19.4% to $2.62 billion and international fares declined 23.5% to $2.24 billion.
ARC Director-Strategic Communications Allan Muten cautioned against overoptimism, noting that the sales trends at least partly reflect better year-to-year comparisons because the US economy started to nosedive in the late spring of 2008. He also pointed out that airlines are pricing aggressively to capture leisure travelers this summer. Nevertheless, he was encouraged by the fact that the number of credit card transactions rose 1.8% in June versus the same month last year.
Total transactions fell 3% but this was improved over a year-to-date decline of 11.9%. Total sales for the first half of 2009 dropped 24.9% compared to the year-ago period while total fares plunged 26.7%. "It´s a bit early to say it´s a light at the end of the tunnel," Muten summed up, but the uptick in credit transactions "is encouraging."