December 1, 2008

Online air travel searches down sharply

U.S. consumers have cut back drastically on their online searches for air travel accommodations, an industry research group said.

Comscore Inc. said searches for airline information in October -- a time when many winter vacations are arranged -- fell 14 percent compared with October 2007, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

Online traffic declined sharply at Expedia Inc., falling 25 percent in the month, while searches fell 16 percent at LP and 23 percent at Orbitz, where a 10 percent workforce reduction was announced.

The economy and industry outlook for the fourth quarter has deteriorated markedly over the past six weeks, Steven Barnhart, chief executive officer and president of Orbitz told the Tribune.

What's happening in 2008 is a universal buckling down, said ComScore's Sara Stevens. In ComScore's October survey, more than 50 percent of consumers indicated they planned to change their travel plans this year with 39 percent of those consumers indicating they would simply stay at home during the winter.