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New data sets from the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) show ARC-accredited travel agency air ticket sales totaled $39.8 billion last year.
The data compares travel agent air ticket sales from 2020 to 2021 to compare growth and rates of travel. In 2020, travelers took 116 million trips. That number grew 50 percent year-over-year, with travelers taking 174 million passenger trips in 2021. It falls short of meeting pre-pandemic levels, though. In 2019, travelers took 302 million trips. Domestic travel rates are recovering faster than international trips.
In the last three months of 2021, travel agencies earned over $3 billion in sales, with travelers taking 13.2 million trips, more than double 2020's fourth-quarter results. Of this number, about 9.2 million of them were domestic, a 115 percent increase from 2020. About 4.05 million were international trips, which was an increase of about 78 percent year-over-year.
Total sales in airfare in 2020 or 2021 did not meet or exceed pre-pandemic levels, though it did rise year-over-year during the pandemic; December 2019, for instance, reported a total number of air ticket sales at $6.1 billion. Travelers spent $1.05 billion in December 2020, then $3.1 billion in December 2021, about half the pre-pandemic number, most likely due to the travel hesitancy that arose as the Omicron variant spread throughout the world.
December 2021 was the worst performing month for ticket sales and trips taken for the year, with a decrease in trips and sales ranging from twenty to thirty percent.
"The end-of-year decrease we typically see in sales and trips was more pronounced this year with consumers worried about the omicron variant," said Steve Solomon, vice president of global sales, marketing, operations and customer experience at ARC. "Total sales showed a similar decrease in the late summer as delta variant case counts grew. We expect a continued recovery across air travel in 2022, with online travel agencies recovering to pre-pandemic levels this spring as consumers continue to power the recovery."
This data might only look at airline ticket sales and trips, but it does show a promising outlook for both airlines and travel agencies, as well as the wider travel industry. Only time will tell what this year will bring, but it's expected that industry's recovery will continue to improve.
Lacey Pfalz is a freelance Associate Writer for TravelPulse. When she's not writing about traveling, she's often found fussing...
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