Online Traffic Climbs But Airline Sites Struggle

Hitwise, a leading online competitive intelligence service providing daily insights, reports that the travel sector, despite its troubles, has reached a peak for the year in category-share of online traffic. This growth has come despite a steady decrease in the share of traffic going to the major airline sites.

U.S. visits to the Hitwise

Travel category were very volatile during the first quarter of 2003, and visits actually reached a low point for the year during the war on Iraq. However, since the end of the war, the category has re-bounded by 40% and now stands at a 21% gain since the beginning of the year.

According to Hitwise, Expedia is the leading travel site, claiming 8.8% of visits to the Travel category. The other sites that make up the top 5, which interestingly are devoid of any major airline websites are Yahoo! Maps , MapQuest, Travelocity , and Orbitz .

Southwest Airlines has been the sixth most visited travel site since January, but its traffic-share is down for the year (-24%), as is the share of every other major airline site.  In fact, of the top 10 sites in the Travel - Transport sub-category, eight of which are airlines, the only site which has witnessed an increase for the year is the car-rental site, Budget Rent-a-car .


“The Internet has proved so useful to travel consumers that online travel is growing despite the industry’s difficulties,” said Chris Maher, General Manager of Hitwise, North America. “It’s tough for the airlines to benefit from that migration, though, as consumers flock to sites that allow them to compare prices across a variety of travel related services.”