Web Fuels Revenue for Northwest Airlines

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Northwest Airlines' Web site was the key element -- outside the general health of the national economy -- in the steady growth of ticket sales the firm has experienced throughout 2000.


NWA, Minneapolis, reported 83 percent of its flights full for June, which broke its monthly record. Sales figures were not available, but NWA spokesman Jon Austin said ticket revenue had been steadily rising for several months because of online and offline promotions driving people to the firm's Web site.


The company has run coupons in travel magazines for special deals at the site. NWA.com has also run ads in various other types of publications, and it has placed banner ads for discount offers at travel-oriented Web sites.


Austin said NWA.com will generate more than $700 million in online ticket sales by year-end. Half will be made at the airline site, he said, with the other half coming through third-party relationships with sites such as Priceline.com.


Comparatively, NWA reported making $500 million in tickets sold online in 1999. Again, half of the reported earnings came at its site and the other half through third-party retail sites.


Austin said the revenue the Internet generates for his company is making the traditionally tough airline business more bearable. He said Internet sales helped NWA report a slight profit in 1999.


"The [profit] margins in this business can be tough," Austin said. "The Internet has given us a low-cost distribution center. Online sales have a higher profit margin than going through traditional channels such as travel agents."
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