American Express Business Travel Monitor reports domestic and international airfares reached record levels in Q2 2008



    -- Companies Achieve Savings by Tightening Policy Compliance --

    MARKHAM, ON, Aug. 25 /CNW/ - American Express Business Travel today
published data for North American-based domestic and international airfares
from its Business Travel Monitor. For the second quarter of 2008, the Monitor
confirmed that high fuel prices, which led many airlines to make capacity
reductions and tighten ticketing restrictions, increased the average airfare
paid, motivating companies to strengthen policy compliance strategies when
managing travel and entertainment spending.
    "External market forces continue to pressure business travel budgets at
the same time that high fuel costs push travel prices to new highs," said
Lyell Farquharson, Vice President and General Manager, Business Travel Canada,
American Express. "As companies increasingly view travel as an investment in
their business, we are helping our clients adjust to manage their travel
programs in a disciplined way by incorporating best practices and optimizing
policy guidelines and compliance strategies. These efforts are designed to
maximize spending efficiency and increase the return on investment."

    Average Domestic Airfare Paid Increased 10 Percent Year-Over-Year

    The second quarter of 2008 marked a seven-year high in the average
airfare paid by business travelers. Oil prices, capacity constraints and
ticketing restrictions drove up airfare 10 percent year-over-year. The average
one-way airfare paid was $260, up $24 from the same period last year. Compared
to the first quarter of 2008, the fare was up $27, an increase of 12 percent.

    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    North America          Q2'07    Q3'07    Q4'07    Q1'08    Q2'08
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Average Airfare Paid    $236     $231     $229     $233     $260
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    

    "During times when economic conditions are volatile, companies step up
efforts to stress the importance of purchasing tickets in advance in order to
use discount tickets in a negotiated travel program," continued Farquharson.
"Our data shows that during the second quarter of 2008, 89 percent of tickets
purchased were domestic discount coach fares, this shows that more travelers
purchased tickets in advance. These subtle changes can translate into
significant savings - 17 percent or more in some cases. Looking at the first
six months of 2008, the companies that had travelers purchase 8-14 days in
advance rather than 0-7 days in advance saved an average of $49 per segment."

    Average International Airfare Reached Highest Level in Nearly a Decade

    The average international one-way airfare paid during the second quarter
of 2008 set a new record, at its highest level since the inception of the
Business Travel Monitor in 1999. With an 11 percent increase in the second
quarter of 2008, over the same period in 2007, international airfares reached
nearly $2,000, with a final average of $1,980.

    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    International          Q2'07    Q3'07    Q4'07    Q1'08    Q2'08
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Average Fare Paid     $1,788   $1,853   $1,957   $1,911   $1,980
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    

    American Express data also shows that the percentage of international
business class tickets purchased was at the lowest level since the third
quarter of 2004 at 49 percent. Increases in the percentage of tickets
purchased in other classes of service show that companies are employing
strategies to encourage travelers to trade down to other classes of service.
    "As globalization continues to pull business travelers to international
destinations, we advise our clients to focus on international travel policy
compliance," said Farquharson. "Strategies including encouraging employees to
take advantage of corporate discounts negotiated with preferred suppliers and
trading down to lower classes of service when appropriate are driving savings
for our clients despite the difficult travel market. Our recommended best
practices also include using tools like the Pre-Trip Auditor to ensure greater
compliance."

    The American Express Business Travel Monitor

    American Express Business Travel distributes data through various
services and tools, including the Business Travel Monitor and the annual
Global Business Travel Forecast, to offer clients a better understanding of
pricing trends and the existing opportunities for gaining better control over
their travel and entertainment budgets. Specifically, the American Express
Business Travel Monitor is a benchmarking service that offers corporations a
comprehensive collection of pricing data across major travel and entertainment
(T&E) expense categories in the marketplace today, by accessing American
Express' extensive global database of purchase information. The Monitor tracks
a variety of travel expense categories including published and purchased
airfares captured across hundreds of domestic and international routes. The
average fare paid is the one-way average paid by all business travelers booked
by American Express Business Travel, and includes a variety of fare types,
including first class, unrestricted and discount air fares. Typical business
airfares are generally the lowest refundable economy fare available to the
business traveler.

    About American Express Business Travel

    American Express Business Travel
(www.americanexpress.com/businesstravel), a division of the American Express
Company, is dedicated to helping its clients realize the greatest possible
value from their investment in travel through increased cost savings,
outstanding customer service and greater spend control. For small businesses,
medium-sized enterprises and multinational corporations, American Express
Business Travel provides a combination of industry-leading booking technology,
travel management consulting expertise, strategic sourcing and supplier
negotiation support, and customer service available online and offline, around
the world.
    American Express operates one of the world's largest travel agency
networks with $26.4 billion in global travel sales in 2007.

    American Express Company (www.americanexpress.com) is a diversified
worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It
is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, and
business services.





For further information:

For further information: Lauren Dineen-Duarte, American Express Canada,
(905) 474-8169, lauren.i.dineen-duarte@aexp.com

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