Airlines Doing More Online Marketing Deals

It’s becoming almost a daily occurrence – an airport evacuated, someone trying to storm the cockpit, passengers overcoming an ominous suspect.

So it’s no wonder the airlines are doing more deals like the one announced today by Northwest Airlines , which signed “a comprehensive distribution agreement” with online travel operation Travelocity .

The deal “combines the value and convenience of Northwest’s product with Travelocity’s reach into the online market,” said Al Lenza, vice president of distribution and e-commerce at Northwest Airlines. Financial terms were not disclosed, but there’s no doubt every extra ticket sold will help both parties.

Travelocity provides Internet and wireless reservations information for more than 700 airlines, but it doesn’t have special marketing relationships with all of them. It did sign a similar deal with Continental in January and has deals with British Airways, JetBlue and America West, among other airlines.

Airlines are scrambling to fill seats and make their customers happy, that’s clear. British Airways just this week signed a deal with the Worldwide Travel Exchange (WWTE) hotel-booking arm of Expedia Inc. company Travelscape, enabling the airline’s passengers to book rooms at more than 40,000 hotel properties.

“WWTE has enhanced British Airways’ online offering, giving travelers the opportunity to book hotel accommodations worldwide when visiting the site,” said Simon Parks-Smith, head of eBA.

Launched in July 2001, WWTE delivers private label booking solutions to online travel suppliers.

Of course, the airlines were interested in selling tickets online before Sept. 11, as witness the creation of online travel site Orbitz, founded by American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United airlines.

The big question for the air carriers is when air travel will return to normal. And that won’t be soon, if you believe the International Energy Agency (IEA), which said in a recent report that Western demand for aviation fuel is unlikely to bounce back quickly this year even with a speedy recovery for the world economy.

Demand for kerosene jet fuel after the events of Sept. 11 slumped by nine percent in the fourth quarter on average among the industrialized nations, led by a 14 percent dip in North America, the industry group reported, adding that a turnaround is unlikely because ambitious carriers had already over-reached themselves, creating unfeasible levels of demand before Sept. 11.

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