by Martha Cooke | November 01, 2003

Corporate air travel will be mostly flat in 2004, according to a September survey of 110 firms by the Radnor, Pa.-based Business Travel Coalition, but more than one-quarter of companies predicted an uptick. Among key findings:
" While 55 percent of respondents expected air travel buying to be flat in 2004, 27 percent predicted an increase; 18 percent anticipated a decrease.
" For 2003, projected North American air travel spend is down 7 percent from 2002 levels, from $1.13 billion to $1.05 billion.
" One bright spot for corporate travel buyers is lower prices. The average cost of a domestic roundtrip ticket fell from $372.37 in 2000 to $297.54 through June 2003.
" Part of this dip is because firms used more nonrefundable fares, which rose from 50.6 percent in 2000 to 58.1 percent through June 2003.
" Another contributing factor is the boom in low-fare airlines. More than three-fourths (76 percent) of respondents cited increased use of low-fare airlines in 2003.
" This trend will continue; 65 percent of respondents plan to rely more on low-fare carriers in 2004.