Letting The Air Out Of Air Travel

It's a revelation: Get rid of frequent-flier miles, negotiate agency fees--and business air travel just might get cheaper. Business Travel Contractors, a suburban Philadelphia consultant, is floating a plan that proposes just that. And some big companies are taking it seriously. BTC, founded by former CIGNA travel managers, wants to broker contracts between airlines and companies that would cut fares by stripping out marketing expenses. Fifteen employers, among them Bell Atlantic and Merck, are funding the firm's efforts. Some industry officials, though, say the plan could be a long time off. It requires an antitrust O.K. from the Justice Dept. and will need the support of airlines and travel agencies.

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