03 February 2005 | Amon Cohen
Business travellers can look forward to cheaper flights thanks to a restructuring of global rules governing air fares.
The International Air Transport Association, which oversees the scheduled airline industry, has removed universal restrictions on buying tickets outside the country where air journeys begin. It has also relaxed rules on travellers booking two one-way tickets.
Travel agents are still assimilating the implications of the changes, which came into effect on 15 January, but according to one estimate, it will cut prices on 2-3 per cent of full-fare travel itineraries by up to 70 per cent. Long-haul journeys and trips involving more than two flights are most likely to come down.
However, early evidence is emerging that carriers are stifling the new opportunities by re-imposing purchasing restrictions on a fare-by-fare basis. "As soon as the airlines see a cheap fare, they are bringing in a rule to stop it," said Chris Turnbull, senior partner with Scholefield Turnbull & Partners, a London-based business travel agency.
Meanwhile, research by travel technology company Partners Software has revealed that 50 per cent of all routes flown by business travellers in Europe have a budget carrier competing on them. One of the latest is Manchester-London Gatwick, launched by Jet2 on 17 January.
Ticket pricing and low-cost carriers will be among the topics covered at Business Travel Unpacked, a one-day Supply Management forum in London on 10 March. For more information visit www.supplymanagement.com/unpacked
or call 020 7880 6249