Air Ticket Sales from U.S. to Japan Remain Weak after 2011 Tsunami

Forward-Looking Ticket Transaction Data Suggest Positive Trend in 2012

Mar 08, 2012, 11:14 ET from ARC

ARLINGTON, Va., March 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ARC announced today that after comparing more than 3 million air ticket transactions for travel from the United States to Japan, the volume remains below historical levels since the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. But forward-looking departure data shows that this travel market may be poised for a recovery in 2012.

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ARC examined ticket transactions for U.S. air departures to Japan from Jan. 1, 2009 to Feb. 29, 2012. Among its findings were:

  • Ticket refunds as a percentage of total transactions spiked at 23.4% in March 2011 and 12.9% in April 2011 immediately after the natural disaster, compared to average refund rates (excluding these months) of 4.5%.
  • After the earthquake and tsunami, ticket sales began to slip into April 2011, when transactions finished at 32% below 2010 and 38% below 2009 levels.
  • For the remainder of 2011 following March, sales and departures have remained below both 2009 and 2010, but followed traditional seasonal trends seen throughout the examined time period.
  • For January to February 2012, sales moved in an upward direction, surpassing 2009 levels by 3% and 7% respectively.
  • Future departures from the United States to Japan for March through June 2012 seem to indicate a developing recovery: March and April 2012 departures are ahead of 2009, while May and June 2012 departures exceed all years for the same periods in 2009 through 2011.

"We've been closely following ticketing transactions to Japan since the tragic events in 2011 to see when the volume would return to its normal level," said Chuck Thackston, managing director of data and analytics at ARC. "Although we did not see that happen in the later part of last year, we are cautiously optimistic that recovery is beginning based on the first two months of this year. ARC will continue to monitor this trend as we move into the second fiscal quarter."

Graphical presentations of the above data points are available online at:

ARC's data and analytics department provides data and analytical services for a wide spectrum of customers ranging from airlines and travel organizations, to airline industry analysts. The company's wealth of information about U.S. airline ticket transactions is a valuable resource in making strategic business judgments.

About ARC:

As the financial backbone of the U.S. travel industry, ARC enables commerce among travel agencies, airlines, and travel suppliers, and offers them secure and accurate financial settlement services. More than 14,000 travel agencies and 190 airlines use the company's transaction settlement services that, in 2011, totaled more than $82 billion in value. ARC also supplies transactional data to organizations, facilitating better business decisions through fact-based market analyses. Established in 1984, ARC is headquartered in Arlington, Va.

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Notes for Editors:

* Ticket transactions.

  • Based on 3,144,165 million transactions for departures from Jan. 1, 2009 through Feb. 29, 2012, by U.S. retail and corporate travel agencies, online travel agencies, and satellite ticket printing offices.
  • United States flight origin and Japan destination (all airports).
  • Does not include sales of tickets purchased directly from airlines.

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