GSA expands discount airfare program

Agency awards $3.1 billion in contracts to major airlines in exchange for flexible booking and reduced rates.

The General Service Administration is expanding a program to provide government employees with discounted airfares.

The City Pairs Program, which awarded $3.1 billion in fiscal 2012 contracts to major U.S. airlines in exchange for reduced fares, will cover more than 6,000 destinations starting Oct. 1, a 7 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.

CPP uses government's buying power to negotiate rates that are about 70 percent below average commercial airfares, GSA said. The program awards contracts based on average flight time, price offers, type of service and number of flights available.

GSA has deemed the long-running program a success for both the airlines and the federal government, and estimates governmentwide savings of $7.4 billion for fiscal 2012.

In addition to lower costs, CPP contracts provide flexibility so federal managers can more easily plan their travel budgets. There are no additional fees for changing or canceling flight plans arranged through the program, prices don't fluctuate for the term of the contracts and federal fliers can buy one-way and multileg fares in addition to round trips.

GSA's Travel Management Information Service operates CPP alongside the agency's E-Gov Travel Service. CPP began in 1980 and included only 11 markets. By 2006, the program included 1,913 markets. Starting October, the program will cover 4,374 domestic and 1,783 international city pairs.

Here are five examples of one-way fares offered by the City Pairs Program:

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport andKansas City $162
Detroit and New York LaGuardia Airport $208
Baltimore Washington International Airport and Dallas $307
Tampa and London $394
Honolulu and Tokyo $407