Year to date ARC sales are up

According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation, as of the end of the 3rd quarter there are just 13,709 travel agencies in the US.  These agencies have produced air ticket sales of $66.6b year to date, up 3.77% from the previous year to date number.   That $66.6b is broken down as follows:

Domestic Fares               $28,597,618,258 2.13%
International Fares   $25,499,048,259 -1.97%
Total Fares   $54,096,666,518 0.16%

Airline Fees   $4,892,226,739 63.17%
Taxes and Non-Airline Fees   $6,864,189,867 6.49%
Total Taxes and Fees   $11,756,416,606 24.48%

Airline fees (aka ancillary fees) sold by the travel agency industry are up 63.17 year over year.   Taxes are up just 6.49%.

The last time that the number of agencies was this low was 1977.  In 1977, those agencies produced just $9.3b in air ticket sales.

At that time, the industry was just about to be changed forever by both deregulation and the advent of the Central Reservation System on the travel agency desktop.  The availability of such technology to improve accessibility of information, as well as productivity has been a boon to the industry for nearly 35 years.

The number of travel agencies in the US hit a high of 47,286 in 1996 and have been declining annually since then.  Although it would appear that we are declining as an industry, times have actually changed for the better and overall on average, the remaining agencies are bigger and stronger than their 1977 predecessors.

Today’s ARC agencies are split into three major groups – first is the Mega Agencies, which includes American Express, CWT, BCD, HRG, Maritz, Omega, CWT/SATO and SATO.  These mega agency groups were largely a product of the rollup of smaller regional agencies and acquisition.  The second category are the balance of the brick and mortar agencies.  The last category are the Online Travel Agents.  The primary OTAs include Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and Travelocity and their sub-brands.

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