GSA adds airline options for federal travel

Wednesday - 7/7/2010, 10:10am EDT

Timothy Burke, Director, GSA Office of Travel and Transportation Services

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Federal travel just got cheaper and easier.

The U.S. General Services Administration has added 749 new destinations and three more carriers to its federal air travel program, City Pairs.

The "largest managed airline program in the world" provides benefits to federal employees when traveling on official business.

Timothy Burke, Director of GSA's Office of Travel and Transportation Services, told Federal News Radio, City Pairs handles two million users annually in 5,700 markets this year.

Burke said $2.9 billion dollars a year is spent, but after negotiations, the government saves $6 billion.

Using the multi-billion dollar contracts, GSA has been able to negotiate an impressive list of additional benefits, including:

  • Fares priced on one-way routes permitting agencies to plan multiple destinations,
  • No advance purchase required,
  • No minimum or maximum length stay required,
  • Tickets fully refundable,
  • Last seat availability,
  • No blackout periods,
  • Stable prices enabling travel budgeting,
  • Dual fares availability

"The other side of this," said Burke, "is the federal traveler can get these tickets issued at any point in time."

We try to drive the programs through the official channels, which are the travel agencies, the online booking tools though e-Travel and the Defense Travel System, but the independent airlines across the globe will accept any federal traveler with orders and the form of payment that is required for them to be accepted by the airlines which is the SmartPay program that GSA issues out across two million different travelers.

More than just federal employees can use the program, said Burke. Other eligible travelers include the postal service, congress, native american tribes and tribal organizations.

The updated contracts for 2011 include three additional airlines - Continental, Hawaiian, and Southwest - resulting in a total of 13 carrier options. The new options will become effective Oct. 1, 2010.