The Travel Factory Blog
Reviewing The Airline Industry At Summer's End
With the grounding of the Boeing's 737 Max planes last February, and the anticipated weather interruptions, the airline industry has had a frustrating summer trying to keep juggling those balls (planes) up in the air to keep those passengers reasonably satisfied. It was estimated that there were 41 million fewer seats on airplanes available this summer as a result of the disruptions.
Southwest Airlines lost just under 3 million seats, the largest decrease of the U. S. airlines. China Air lost about 3.7 million seats followed by Air Canada with 3.3 million seats.
The problem is that there is no reasonable guess when they will get them back into service; some say it will be around November, some even predict it will not be until sometime next spring. Even when they get back into service there will be an understandable reluctance by travelers to consider getting back on a 737 Max.
It obviously hasn't kept folks from flying. The Airlines Reporting Corp. that keeps track of airline tickets being sold by U. S.-based travel agencies reported this month that they saw an increase of sales in July of 4%. That translates to about $8 billion in sales compared to $7.7 billion in July, 2018. These results do not include the sales of tickets purchased directly from airlines. Those are interesting statistics because there are only around 12,000 travel agencies in the United States. I remember in the 80's there were over 40,000 agencies!!!
The American Society of Travel Advisors reported that in 2018, the industry saw $116.8 billion in sales, and they anticipate even more this year. They reported that 61% of the advisors saw an increase in business and that 83% remained positive about the future. Even the on-line travel agencies saw an increase in sales, but it was reported that the largest volume agencies, Expedia and Priceline, focused mostly on the large volume production of hotel sales.
James Shillinglaw, editor in chief and founder of Insider Travel Report, reported that travel suppliers like tour operators, cruise lines, hotel, and car rentals realize that travel agents are more valuable than ever and that “travel advisors still produce the best yields for suppliers, much more than the on-line agencies”. It's that personal contact and emotional connection that keeps them coming back.
Shillinglaw estimated that roughly only 50% of travel agencies and advisors are selling airline tickets. The reason, of course, is that advising and selling an airline ticket is pure service. The airlines have not compensated the individual travel agency for selling and supporting the sale of airline tickets since 1998. We at The Travel Factory continue to sell that ticket, and for the longest time we did so without charging a service charge. But when we discovered that several airlines were charging a service charge, we have been charging $30 for a domestic ticket for the past several years.
One of the negatives about airline travel for the past several years has been the long lines at the security check points. A Texas based company has done some research regarding the wait times at airports around the country. The shortest wait time was at Salt Lake City of 9.1 minutes. I could have predicted the longest....Newark Airport of 23.1 minutes. We spent over 2 hours there last year returning from the Holy Land.
The travel advisors at The Travel Factory will treat you nice, whether you want to fly, cruise, tour, or just talk about going somewhere, so drop in for an encouraging visit at 4150 Southwest Drive, or call us at 698-1421. Our website is always waiting for a visit at www.thetravelfactoryabilene.com.