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Business travel prices close to pre-recession levels

December 16, 2010 |  5:00 pm

FourseasonsLAThe rates hotels and airlines charge business travelers are close to returning to pre-recession levels, a report by American Express Business Travel concluded Thursday.

In the latest sign that business travel is on the rebound, the report by the corporate travel arm of American Express found that domestic airfares are up 6% for the third quarter of 2010, compared to the same period last year. Domestic hotel rates are up 3% and international airfares are up 8% over the same time last year, the report said.

For example, in the third quarter of 2007, the average domestic airfare ticket was $231, according to the report. It dropped to $215 in 2009 but has rebounded to $228 in the third quarter of 2010.

The American Express study also reported that hotel rates jumped the highest over the same time last year in New York City (10%), New Orleans (5%), Washington, D.C. (5%), Las Vegas (4%) and San Francisco (4%).

Most experts say business travel spending began to plummet in  September 2008 when a subsidiary of insurance giant American International Group held a pricey retreat at the five-star St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa in Dana Point after AIG got  an $85-billion bailout from the Federal Reserve. The ensuing uproar created what has been called the "AIG effect," prompting businesses to scale back business travel spending.

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Guests check into the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles. Credit: Los Angeles Times