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Air Fares

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4th-Quarter Domestic Air Fares Rose 10% from 4th Quarter 2010

Release Number: 
BTS 21-12

TOP 100 AIRPORTS: HIGHEST FARES AT CINCINNATI, LOWEST FARES AT ATLANTIC CITY

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Table Version | Excel | CSVDomestic Air Fares

Domestic Air Fares

Monday, April 30, 2012 - Average domestic air fares rose to $368 in the fourth quarter of 2011, up 10 percent from the average fare of $335 in the fourth quarter of 2010 (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. Cincinnati had the highest average fare, $502, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $189 (Table 3).

Fourth-quarter fares increased 2.1 percent from the third quarter (Table 2). Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

When not adjusted for inflation, the $368 fourth-quarter 2011 average fares were up 6.6 percent from the previous fourth-quarter high of $345 in 2008. Unadjusted fourth-quarter fares dropped to $320 in 2009 during the recession. Fourth-quarter 2011 fares were up 15.2 percent from 2009, not adjusted for inflation. They were also up 23.9 percent from the post 9/11 low of $297 in 2004 (Table 6).

Fourth-quarter 2011 fares, not adjusted for inflation, were the second highest of any quarter, exceeded only by the high of $370 in the second quarter of 2011. Adjusted for inflation, fourth-quarter 2011 fares in 1995 dollars were $251, down 16.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2000, which, at $300, was the inflation-adjusted high for any fourth quarter since 1995 (Table 1). BTS air fare records begin in 1995. See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

Average fares for the full year in 2011 were the highest on record at $364, up 8.3 percent from 2010. The 2011 fares were up 5.2 percent from 2008, which at $346 was previously the highest year on record since 1995, not adjusted for inflation. Adjusting for inflation in 1995 dollars, fares in 2011 averaged $247, up 4.9 percent from 2010 but down 17.6 percent from the inflation-adjusted high of $300 in 2000.  See Annual Fares

Passenger airlines collected 71.4 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the third quarter of 2011, the most recent quarter available (Table 1A).

Air fares in the fourth quarter of 2011 increased 8.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2000, not adjusted for inflation, compared to an overall increase in consumer prices of 29.7 percent during that period. In the 16 years from 1995, the first year of BTS air fare records, air fares rose 28 percent compared to a 47 percent inflation rate (Table 6). The average inflation-adjusted fourth-quarter 2011 fare in 1995 dollars was $251 compared to $288 in 1995 and $300 in 2000 (Table 1).

See Tables 3-5 for data about the top 100 airports based on 2010 originating passengers.

Table 3: Five highest and five lowest average fares in the fourth quarter: Cincinnati, a market with a high representation of business travelers, had the highest average fare, $502, while Atlantic City, a leisure-dominated market, had the lowest, $189. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 8 on the BTS website.

Table 4: Five largest increases and five largest decreases from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2011: Fort Myers, FL, had the largest increase, 26.4 percent, and Charleston, SC, had the largest decrease, 8.3 percent. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 9 on the BTS website.

Table 5: Five largest increases and five largest decreases from the fourth quarter of 2000 to the fourth quarter of 2011: Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA, had the largest increase, 59.1 percent, and White Plains, NY, had the largest decrease, 34.9 percent. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 10 on the BTS website.

For additional data, see Top 100 AirportsRankings or All Airports. Since average fares are based on the Origin and Destination Survey 10 percent ticket sample, averages for airports with smaller samples may be less reliable. Fares for Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico airports are not included in rankings but are available on the web page. First-quarter 2012 average fare data will be released on July 26.

TABLE 1: 4TH QUARTER AVERAGE FARES 1995-2011 COMPARED TO INFLATION RATE

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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 Average Domestic 4Q Fares ($)Percent change from previous yearPercent change from 1995
Average Fares (4Q to 4Q)Inflation (Dec from previous Dec)*Cumulative Average Fares (4Q 1995 to 4Q of each year)Cumulative inflation rate (Dec of each year from Dec 1995)*Average Fare in 1995 dollars
1995288    288
1996278-3.33.3-3.33.3269
19972945.51.72.05.1279
19983167.71.69.96.8296
19993180.62.710.59.6290
20003407.03.418.213.4300
2001300-11.81.64.215.1260
20023093.02.47.317.9262
20033162.21.99.720.1263
2004297-5.93.33.324.0240
20053155.93.49.428.2246
20063181.12.510.631.5242
20073303.64.114.636.8241
20083454.70.120.037.0252
2009320-7.42.711.140.7227
20103354.71.516.342.8234
201136810.03.028.047.0251

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

TABLE 1A PASSENGER AIRLINE REVENUE FROM FARES 1990-2011

Revenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Scheduled Passenger Airline Total Revenue*

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YearRevenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Revenue* (%)
199087.6
199585.6
200084.1
200182.7
200282.3
200379.5
200476.6
200575.0
200674.4
200774.3
200872.9
200970.2
201071.3
2011 (1Q)70.4
2011 (2Q)71.3
2011 (3Q)71.4
2011 (thru Sept)71.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-12

* Scheduled passenger airline total revenue is the sum of the following Schedule P12 accounts with account numbers: Reservation cancellation fees (3919.1), Baggage fees (3906.2), Miscellaneous Operating Revenue (3919.2), Transport-Related Revenue (4898) and Passenger Revenue (Fares) (3901).

TABLE 2: QUARTERLY CHANGE IN AVERAGE DOMESTIC AIRLINE FARES

Percent Change by Quarter

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fares
Avg Fare ($)Pct. Change from Previous Quarter (%)
3Q 20093071.7
4Q 20093204.2
1Q 20103282.6
2Q 20103413.8
3Q 2010340-0.3
4Q 2010335-1.5
1Q 20113566.3
2Q 20113703.9
3Q 2011361-2.4
4Q 20113682.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Note: Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors.

TABLE 3: AIRPORTS WITH HIGHEST AND LOWEST U.S. DOMESTIC AVERAGE ITINERARY FARES 4TH QUARTER 2011

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2010 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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RankOrigin4th Quarter 2011 ($)
 Highest Average Fares 
1Cincinnati, OH502
2Houston Bush, TX494
3Memphis, TN484
4Washington Dulles474
5Newark-Liberty, NJ474
 Average Fare at All Airports368
 Lowest Average Fares 
1Atlantic City, NJ189
2Long Beach, CA229
3Las Vegas, NV267
4Ft. Lauderdale, FL269
5Bellingham, WA271

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

TABLE 4: ONE-YEAR CHANGE BY AIRPORT: TOP 5 PERCENTAGE INCREASES AND DECREASES/SMALLEST INCREASES IN U.S. DOMESTIC AVERAGE ITINERARY FARE, 2010 2011

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2010 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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RankOrigin4th Quarter 2010 ($)4th Quarter 2011 ($)Percent Change (%)
 Largest Increases   
1Ft. Myers, FL24731326.4
2Colorado Springs, CO38146923.1
3Atlantic City, NJ15618921.1
4Pensacola, FL35843320.8
5Flint, MI29034920.4
 Average Fare at All Airports33536810.0
 Largest Decreases/Smallest Increases   
1Charleston, SC448411-8.3
2Greenville/Spartanburg, SC410380-7.2
3Long Beach, CA234229-2.0
4Knoxville TN428425-0.6
5Newark-Liberty, NJ4604742.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

TABLE 5: 11-YEAR CHANGE BY AIRPORT: TOP 5 PERCENTAGE INCREASES AND DECREASES IN U.S. DOMESTIC AVERAGE ITINERARY FARE, 2000-2011

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2010 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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RankOrigin4th Quarter 2000 ($)4th Quarter 2011 ($)Percent Change (%)
 Largest Increases   
1Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA18829959.1
2Reno, NV22133853.1
3El Paso, TX25837444.8
4Dallas Love, TX19827740.2
5Houston Hobby, TX21930438.7
 Average Fare at All Airports3403688.3
 Largest Decreases   
1White Plains, NY552359-34.9
2Bellingham, WA357271-24.3
3Long Beach, CA300229-23.7
4Denver, CO419329-21.5
5Greenville/Spartanburg, SC481380-20.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

TABLE 6: PERCENT CHANGES TO 2011 IN DOMESTIC AVERAGE ITINERARY FARES AND THE INFLATION RATE* BY YEAR SINCE 1995

(1st Quarter to 1st Quarter for fares; March to March for inflation)

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares. Itinerary fares consist of round-trip fares unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. Fares are based on the total ticket value which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include other fees, such as baggage fees, paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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Since 4th Quarter...Duration in YearsAverage 4Q Itinerary Fare ($)Percent Change in Average Fare to 4th Quarter 2011Inflation Rate to Dec 2011
2011 368  
2010133510.03.0
2009232015.24.5
200833456.67.3
2007433011.77.4
2006531815.811.8
2005631517.014.7
2004729723.918.6
2003831616.722.4
2002930919.324.7
20011030022.927.7
2000113408.329.7
19991231815.934.1
19981331616.537.7
19971429425.539.9
19961527832.442.3
19951628828.047.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

For air fares for the following airports, go to https://www.transtats.bts.gov/AIRFARES/.

Multiple airport areas for which a single average fare calculation is available are: Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC.

Airports covered by average fare calculations are:

Alabama: Birmingham, Huntsville
Arizona: Phoenix, Tucson
Arkansas: Little Rock
California: Burbank, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angele Intl, Oakland, Ontario/San Bernardino, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana (Orange County)
Colorado: Colorado Springs, Denver
Connecticut: Hartford
District of Columbia: Dulles, Reagan National
Florida: Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Tampa, West Palm Beach
Georgia: Atlanta
Idaho: Boise
Illinois: Chicago Midway, Chicago O'Hare
Indiana: Indianapolis
Iowa: Des Moines
Kansas: Wichita
Kentucky: Louisville
Louisiana: New Orleans
Maine: Portland
Maryland: Baltimore
Massachusetts: Boston
Michigan: Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids
Minnesota: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Mississippi: Jackson/Vicksburg
Missouri: Kansas City, St. Louis
Nebraska: Omaha
Nevada: Las Vegas, Reno
New Hampshire: Manchester
New Jersey: Atlantic City, Newark
New Mexico: Albuquerque
New York: Albany, Buffalo, Islip, New York JFK, New York LaGuardia, Rochester, Syracuse, White Plains
North Carolina: Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham
Ohio: Akron/Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton
Oklahoma: Oklahoma City, Tulsa
Oregon: Portland
Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
Rhode Island: Providence
South Carolina: Charleston, Greenville-Spartanburg
Tennessee: Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville
Texas: Austin, Dallas Love, Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso, Houston Bush, Houston Hobby, San Antonio
Utah: Salt Lake City
Vermont: Burlington
Virginia: Newport News/Williamsburg, Norfolk, Richmond
Washington: Bellingham, Seattle, Spokane
Wisconsin: Madison, Milwaukee

 
Updated: Saturday, November 25, 2017