Online air ticket vendors are vying with one another to offer travelers cheap fares to New Orleans. This is one of the economic implications of a city getting wiped out by a hurricane. Travelers have been less inclined to visit New Orleans and need some sort of incentive to pick it as a destination.
However, this seems at odds with news reports of rising travel costs due to fluctuating gas prices, among other things, post-Katrina. Surveys conducted have shown that consumer confidence was low, and swiftly escalating gas and travel costs impacted the Travel Industry of America’s (TIA) last quarter of 2005 Traveler Sentiment Index by a negative 6% from the preceding quarter and a negative 13% from a year ago to an unparalleled, all-time low of 83.8%.
On the other hand, there is also news of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport kick-starting 2006 with increased passenger service. Some airlines have added non-stop flights to existing schedules, for as little as $69 one-way. While one airline is offering a winter clearance sale with New Orleans on its list of destinations, others, with their new ramped up service, are flying at roughly 80% the capacity they flew at pre-hurricane. Less than a half year after the hurricane, Louis Armstrong airport has reached 50% of its pre-disaster passenger service.
In general, consumer’s insight into the affordability of travel revealed that they found it to be infeasible given high travel costs. The number of pleasure trips taken were also seen to be sagging, based on consumer’s perceptions of their own financial situations. Additionally, the quality of service rendered while traveling was observed to be poor this quarter.
While these trends are a cause for concern, they may not linger around long enough to seriously impact travel. The recent decline in gasoline prices as well as news of renewed customer confidence may well put an end to these negative tendencies.
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