This story has been updated.
Average air fares for federal travelers will be cheaper in fiscal 2014, the government announced.
The General Services Administration said on Friday that it negotiated and awarded new contracts for the fiscal 2014 City Pair Program to 10 U.S. air carriers, saving the government an estimated $2.2 billion. Average one-way plane tickets for feds flying domestic on government business will fall 4 percent in fiscal 2014 from current rates, while international fares are dropping 7 percent. Also, the program is increasing available routes by 25 percent to more than 6,300 destinations, and government travelers will benefit from 20 percent more non-stop flights to 1,887 routes, according to GSA.
The fiscal 2014 rates take effect on Oct. 1.
The pre-negotiated airfare rates under the program offer up to 59 percent off of commercial airfare for feds on government travel. More secondary markets will be available at discounted rates in fiscal 2014 as well. “Following the 2013 decision to not award the secondary markets, instead directing federal travelers to the lower commercially-available rates, the airlines came back to GSA with competitive pricing in those markets this year, allowing for travelers to book lowest rates and receive the benefits associated with booking through City Pairs,” said a GSA press release.
GSA said its “data-driven analytical approach to managing the program and negotiating with the carriers” helped reduce costs.
In addition to cheaper fares, the City Pair program allows the federal workforce the flexibility to change, cancel or make last-minute reservations without incurring additional fees. The fiscal 2014 program will retain all the same benefits as previous years.
Airlines are providing more "dual fare markets" for 2014 than 2013, which helped the agency obtain a better deal, said Mafara Hobson, GSA's deputy associate administrator for media affairs. Dual fares, which are part of many city pairs, include a discounted unrestricted rate and an even cheaper restricted rate. The restricted rates, called capacity controlled fares, have a limited number of seats and availability varies by carrier and market. "Dual fare markets offer lower priced capacity controlled fares which means federal travelers have more opportunities to take advantage of lower fares which brings the average fare down," Hobson said.
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