Airline Ticketing: Impact of Changes in the Airline Ticket Distribution Industry

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 2002, when major U.S. airlines posted net operating losses of almost $10 billion, they paid over $7 billion to distribute tickets to consumers. Of these total distribution expenses, airlines paid hundreds of millions of dollars in booking fees to global distribution systems--the companies who package airline flight schedule and fare information so that travel agents can query it to "book" (i.e., reserve and purchase) flights for consumers. Each time a consumer purchases an airline ticket through a travel agent, the global distribution system used by ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. July 31, 2003.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 2002, when major U.S. airlines posted net operating losses of almost $10 billion, they paid over $7 billion to distribute tickets to consumers. Of these total distribution expenses, airlines paid hundreds of millions of dollars in booking fees to global distribution systems--the companies who package airline flight schedule and fare information so that travel agents can query it to "book" (i.e., reserve and purchase) flights for consumers. Each time a consumer purchases an airline ticket through a travel agent, the global distribution system used by the travel agent charges the airline a set booking fee. Concerns have been raised that the global distribution systems may exercise market power over the airlines because most carriers are still largely dependent on each of the global distribution systems for distributing tickets to different travel agents and consumers and therefore must subscribe and pay fees to each. Market power would allow global distribution systems to charge high, noncompetitive fees to airlines, costs that may be passed on to consumers. GAO was asked to examine changes in the airline ticket distribution industry since the late 1990s and the effects on airlines, the impact of these changes on travel agents and consumers, and what the relationship between global distribution systems' booking fees and related costs suggest about the use of market power."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • July 31, 2003

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Airline Ticketing: Impact of Changes in the Airline Ticket Distribution Industry, report, July 31, 2003; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc295150/: accessed September 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.