GSA awards air travel contracts to 14 carriers

Agency predicts that new City Pair contracts will save the government more than $4.5 billion next year.

The federal government's discount airline ticket program could become more competitive in fiscal 2008 and produce more savings, thanks to the increased number of airlines that will be involved.

The General Services Administration has awarded one-year contracts effective Oct. 1 and worth a total of more than $2 billion to 14 U.S.-based carriers. That's up from 11 for this fiscal year.

The GSA-negotiated City Pair contracts offer federal agencies the opportunity to book flights to more than 4,000 destinations at an average cost 69 percent below full commercial airline fares.

The government is expected to save more than $4.5 billion in fiscal 2008 as a result of the discount. This is nearly double the amount GSA estimated it would save in fiscal 2006 when it projected $2.8 billion in savings with 13 airlines under the City Pair contract. For fiscal 2007, GSA has estimated savings of $3.6 billion.

The new airlines in the fiscal 2008 program include North American, ExpressJet, JetBlue and Mesa. Southwest Airlines, which is on the list for 2007, did not receive a new contract.

The other 2008 contracts are with United Airlines, American Airlines, AirTran Airways, ATA Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, US Airways, Northwest Airlines, Midwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

The program started more than 20 years ago when GSA began providing discount rates covering only 11 markets.