AMEX names Caribbean major growth market

American Express Business Travel has named Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC) as one of the Company’s fastest growth markets in 2006 - up 20 percent on a total travel sales basis - following Greater China and India.  The Company, which operates in 40 LAC countries and through more than 300 travel service locations, also revealed that small-to-medium sized enterprises accounted for 65 percent of its 2006 LAC annual dollar sales volume.  Additionally, American Express appointed Juan de Lapuerta to Vice President and General Manager for Business Travel LAC.

Based in Mexico City and reporting to Andrew Winterton, Senior Vice President, Business Travel, de Lapuerta will lead client general management and sales, as well as the Company’s partner network of licensed travel service providers.  Key elements of de Lapuerta’s mandate include delivering maximized savings, service and control to clients through the Company’s differentiated approach to business travel management.

“Previously, as LAC Vice President for Global Supplier Relations and the Partner Network, Juan advocated for our clients, with key air travel suppliers, ensuring mutually beneficial relationships on both sides of the supply and demand chain.  Earlier in his career, he directed business development efforts for American Express LAC’s travel and commercial card units, again demonstrating negotiation and relationship management expertise. Juan’s value-creation mindset and unique mix of supplier and client management experience is perfectly suited to the LAC market,” said Winterton.

De Lapuerta holds a degree in Industrial Engineering and an MBA fro the ICADE in Madrid, Spain.


In other news, American Express Business Travel published its 2006 LAC airfares index.  Comparing 2006 with 2005, the average domestic/short-haul economy fare for Latin American and the Caribbean countries increased 2.7 percent, while the international/long haul business fare grew 4.4 percent.  Price increases were driven by strong business travel demand associated with economic growth and commercial activity across all the LAC market.

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Notably, Argentina’s average short-haul fare spiked 18.2 percent to $133.17, Brazil’s increased 11.6 percent to $175.75 and Chile’s rose 10.4 percent to $272.75.  However, in Mexico, new domestic carrier entrants increased airline fare competition and helped to push average short-haul fares down nearly 5 percent.

Comparably, Argentina’s, Brazil’s, Chile’s and Mexico’s average long-haul fares increased 11.7 percent to $803.12, 4.4 percent to $475.81, 1.2 percent to $635.95 and 2.4 percent to $379.47 respectively.

The American Express Business Travel Latin American and the Caribbean airfares index tracks all city pairs flown by American Express Business Travel clients across Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.  The average short-haul fare is based on one-way Economy class flights booked in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico for travel within the region, while the average International long-haul fare is based on one-way Business class travel from the region to other parts of the world.  Weighted averages are used to normalize for volume differentials by country.
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