City Pairs: Travel Policies & Procedures, General Services Administration
Speaker: Ebony White, City Pair Program Manager, Office of Travel, Employee Relocation and Transportation
The City Pair Program (CPP) was developed to provide discounted air passenger transportation services to federal government travelers. The program has a two-tier coach fair set-up. “We utilize a YCA fare, which is our ceiling fare, and then we also have a _CA fare which is our deeply discounted fare,” explained Ebony White, City Pair Program Manager, Office of Travel, Employee Relocation and Transportation.
“Year after year we experienced firsthand the value that this event brings—from the relationships we build and strengthen to the ideas that are exchanged and integrated. And DTMO always walks away with a better understanding of what is happening across the travel landscape.”
The YCA is the highest amount or ceiling amount that should be paid for government travel. This fare should be available in all the markets where the government has solicited an award all year round. The _CA fare is a discounted fare that the airlines control and it is based on supply and demand. So while the _CA fares may not always be available at the time of booking, their availability can change. A third, international business class fare is also solicited and offered in select markets. This fare has both a YCA, _CA, and business class or _CB fares.
Benefits of the City Pairs Program include:
- Fares priced on one-way routes, permitting agencies to plan multiple destinations
- No advance purchase required
- • No minimum or maximum length stay required
- Fully refundable tickets
- Last seat availability (YCA fare)
- No blackout periods
Business travel demands are expected to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, according to the Government Business Travel Association (GBTA). Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 is the benchmark being used for pre-pandemic figures. In 2019, the government spent $3.16 billion on travel. By comparison, it only spent $1.56 billion and $1.18 billion in FY 2020 and FY 2021 respectively.
For FY 2022, estimated savings at the time of award are expected to be $1.1 billion. The government was able to award 12,626 markets, including over 95 percent of the non-stop markets that it had solicited. For FY 2023, the government will solicit 14,630 markets in its solicitation.
Federal Travel Regulations do offer some exceptions to the use of a contract City Pair fare. However, according to White, “we want to encourage travelers to stay with the airline in which a City Pair fare is awarded, even if they find a lower fare, and so compliance is important both within the program and to the airlines themselves.”