Online bookings drop, but clawing back

Online travel bookings in the US have dropped off by around 40% following the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Centre and some waves are being felt here in New Zealand.

Online travel bookings in the US have dropped off by around 40% following the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Centre and some waves are being felt here in New Zealand.

As IDGNet reported yesterday, travel.co.nz is bouncing back from a drop of almost 50% in its traffic (see Airline chaos reaches NZ site) but it's far from being alone in that respect.

"We're seeing a drop of about two thirds of all traffic originating from the US," says web host company 2Day boss Peter Mott. He says this is particularly galling as "a huge number of the sites hosted here are inbound tourism and adventure tourism operators."

Mott says the numbers are creeping back up again but they are "well down" on where he'd expect them to be.

US-based online travel company Priceline.com reported a 40% drop in bookings on Monday (US time), and a 35% drop on Tuesday.

Priceline expects its business to recover along with the rest of the travel industry, says chairman Richard Braddock in a statement. The company is already seeing positive signs in its rental car and hotel bookings since the disaster, Braddock says.

US online travel competitor Travelocity.com also reported a 30% to 40% drop in bookings from normal volume last week directly following the devastation in New York, the company says in a statement. European web travel agency eBookers reported 650 cancellations - mostly of flights to the US - representing 0.6% of total booking for the first six months of 2001.

A number of US airlines are also suspending their discounted electronic fares while trying to adjust to the new way that air travel will operate after last week's terrorist attacks.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways Group and TWA have posted announcements on their websites indicating their web-based fares have been temporarily suspended.

New Zealand based Freedom Air, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, not only has no plans to change its air fare structure at the moment but isn't experiencing much reduction in its bookings.

"Actually it's running very close to normal," says its managing director Wayne Dodge.

Freedom Air flies domestically within New Zealand and across the Tasman to Australia, so isn't affected by the US decision to close its airways following the terrorist attack.

Dodge says the company offers a discount on airfares sold online but doesn't offer what he calls "deep discounts".

"We do $3 a sector discounts which we think is fair so we have no policy changes planned at this time."

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Tags travelterrorist attack

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