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3rd-Quarter 2009 Air Fares: Average 3rd-Quarter Domestic Air Fares Fell 14.4% from 3rd Quarter 2008; Top 100 Airports: Highest Fare in Huntsville, Lowest Fare at Atlantic City

3rd-Quarter 2009 Air Fares: Average 3rd-Quarter Domestic Air Fares Fell 14.4% from 3rd Quarter 2008; Top 100 Airports: Highest Fare in Huntsville, Lowest Fare at Atlantic City

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BTS 06-10
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Thursday, January 28, 2010 - Average domestic air fares in the third quarter of 2009 fell to their lowest July-to-September level since 2005, dropping 14.4 percent from the third quarter of 2008 in the largest year-to-year decline on record (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reports average fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. 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.

The $306 third-quarter 2009 average fares were down 14.4 percent from the all-time high, not inflation-adjusted, of $358 in the third quarter of 2008 and down 26.8 percent from the inflation-adjusted high for any third-quarter since 1995 set in 2000. The third quarter 2009 average fares were up 3.3 percent from the post-9/11 third-quarter $297 in 2004 (Table 1). BTS air fare records reach back to 1995. See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

Third quarter average fares were up 1.7 percent from the second quarter of 2009. Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors (Table 2).

While air fares in the third quarter of 2009 rose 1.0 percent since 2001, overall prices measured by the inflation rate rose 21.1 percent during that period (Table 6). In the 14 years from 1995, the first year of BTS records, air fares rose 6.6 percent compared to a 41.0 percent inflation rate. In 1995 dollars, the average air fare in the third quarter of 2009 was $217 (Table 1).

Average fares in this release may not be comparable to BTS fare press releases before the second quarter of 2007 which did not exclude frequent flyer fares or abnormally high fares. Bulk fares continue to be excluded as in earlier releases.

Beginning with the first quarter 2008 release, BTS does not include Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico airports in rankings. Average fares for those airports are available on the BTS Air Fare web page: http://www.bts.gov/xml/atpi/src/index.xml.

Of the top 100 airports based on 2008 originating passengers, the highest third-quarter average fares were in Huntsville, AL, followed by Grand Rapids, MI; Savannah, GA; Washington Dulles; and Knoxville, TN. The lowest fares in the top 100 airports were at Atlantic City, NJ, followed by Orlando, FL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Dallas Love; and Long Beach, CA. (Table 3). See the BTS Air Fare web page for average fares for the top 100 airports. 

There was only one year-to-year average fare increase for the third quarter among the 100 largest airports ranked by originating passengers at 2.5 percent, in Savannah. Atlantic City; Reno, NV; Dallas Love; and Spokane, WA, had the smallest decreases (Table 4).

The biggest year-to-year average decrease was 38.5 percent in Cincinnati, followed by Minneapolis/St. Paul; Milwaukee; Madison, WI; and Flint, MI (Table 4).

The largest average fare increase from the third quarter of 1995 to the third quarter of 2009 was at Dallas Love followed by El Paso, TX; Houston Hobby; Reno; and Colorado Springs, CO. (Table 5).

The largest average fare decrease from the third quarter of 1995 to the third quarter of 2009 was at White Plains, NY. The other top average fare decreases over this period took place at Manchester, NH; Flint; Akron/Canton, OH; and Rochester, NY (Table 5).

Additional information about average fares, including fares for the top 100 airports based on U.S. originating domestic passengers, can be found on the BTS website at http://www.bts.gov/xml/atpi/src/index.xml. Fourth-quarter average fare data will be released on April 28.

The Air Travel Price Index (ATPI) for the third quarter of 2009 will be posted on the BTS website on Feb. 12. The ATPI is a separate statistical measure of the level of air fares.

Table 1: 3rd Quarter Average Fares 1995-2009 Compared to Inflation Rate

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. 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.

Averages do not include frequent flyer fares.

Excel | CSV

  Average Domestic 3Q Fares ($) Percent change from previous year Percent change from 1995
Average Fares (3Q to 3Q) Inflation (Sep from previous Sep)* Cumulative Average Fares (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) Cumulative inflation rate (Sep of each year from Sep 1995)* Average Fare in 1995 dollars
1995 288         288
1996 270 -6.3 3.0 -6.3 3.0 262
1997 282 4.7 2.2 -1.8 5.2 268
1998 315 11.7 1.5 9.6 6.8 295
1999 317 0.6 2.6 10.3 9.6 289
2000 337 6.1 3.5 17.1 13.4 297
2001 303 -10.0 2.6 5.4 16.4 260
2002 303 0.1 1.5 5.5 18.1 257
2003 312 3.0 2.3 8.6 20.9 258
2004 297 -5.1 2.5 3.1 24.0 239
2005 306 3.2 4.7 6.4 29.8 236
2006 330 7.9 2.1 14.8 32.4 249
2007 328 -0.8 2.8 13.9 36.1 241
2008 358 9.3 4.9 24.5 42.8 251
2009 306 -14.4 -1.3 6.6 41.0 217

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 2: Quarterly Change in Average Domestic Airline Fares

Percent Change by Quarter

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. 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.

Excel | CSV

  Average Domestic Fares
Avg Fare* ($) Pct. Change from Previous Quarter
4Q 2007 330 0.7
1Q 2008 333 1.1
2Q 2008 346 3.8
3Q 2008 358 3.4
4Q 2008 345 -3.7
1Q 2009 313 -9.1
2Q 2009 301 -3.8
3Q 2009 306 1.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Average fares from 4Q 2007 to 1Q 2009 revised from July 29, 2009 release.

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

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

Table 3: Highest and Lowest U.S. Domestic Average Itinerary Fares 3rd Quarter 2009

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2008 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. 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.

Excel | CSV

Rank Origin 3rd Quarter 2009 ($)
  Highest Average Fares  
1 Huntsville, AL 492
2 Grand Rapids, MI 406
3 Savannah, GA 396
4 Washington Dulles, VA 391
5 Knoxville TN 388
  Average Fare at All Airports 306
   Lowest Average Fares  
1 Atlantic City, NJ 165
2 Orlando, FL 225
3 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 228
4 Dallas Love, TX 229
5 Long Beach, CA 229

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 4: Top 5 Increases/Smallest Decreases and Top 5 Decreases in U.S. Domestic Average Itinerary Fare, 2008 2009

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2008 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. 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.

Excel | CSV

Rank Origin 3rd Quarter 2008 ($) 3rd Quarter 2009 ($) Percent Change from 3rd Qtr 2008
   Largest Increases/Smallest Decreases      
1 Savannah, GA 386 396 2.5
2 Atlantic City, NJ 166 165 -0.4
3 Reno, NV 301 290 -3.4
4 Dallas Love, TX 238 229 -3.9
5 Spokane, WA 317 303 -4.5
  Average Fare at All Airports 358 306 -14.4
   Largest Decreases      
1 Cincinnati, OH 597 367 -38.5
2 Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 472 322 -31.9
3 Milwaukee, WI 336 246 -26.8
4 Madison, WI 490 359 -26.7
5 Flint, MI 340 251 -26.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 5: Top 5 U.S. Domestic Average Itinerary Fare Increases and Decreases, 1995-2009

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2008 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. 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.

Excel | CSV

Rank Origin 3rd Quarter 1995 ($) 3rd Quarter 2009 ($) Percent Change from 3rd Qtr 1995
  Largest Increases      
1 Dallas Love, TX 76 229 199.8
2 El Paso, TX 153 299 95.3
3 Houston Hobby, TX 135 259 92.3
4 Reno, NV 153 290 89.7
5 Colorado Springs, CO 194 356 83.2
  Average Fare at All Airports 288 306 6.6
   Largest Decreases      
1 White Plains, NY 481 257 -46.6
2 Manchester, NH 462 283 -38.8
3 Flint, MI 407 251 -38.3
4 Akron/Canton, OH 389 241 -37.9
5 Rochester, NY 411 271 -34.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 6: Percent Changes to 2009 in Domestic Average Itinerary Fares and the Inflation Rate* by Year Since 1995

(2nd Quarter to 2nd Quarter for fares; June to June for inflation)

Fares based on domestic itinerary fares, round-trip or one-way for which no return is purchased. 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.

Excel | CSV

Since 3rd Quarter ... Duration in Years Average 3Q Itinerary Fare ($) 3rd Quarter 2009 Average Fare Compared to Previous Years (% change) Inflation Rate to Sep 2009
2009   306    
2008 1 358 -14.4 -1.3
2007 2 328 -6.5 3.6
2006 3 330 -7.2 6.4
2005 4 306 0.2 8.6
2004 5 297 3.3 13.7
2003 6 312 -1.9 16.6
2002 7 303 1.0 19.3
2001 8 303 1.1 21.1
2000 9 337 -9.0 24.3
1999 10 317 -3.4 28.6
1998 11 315 -2.8 32.0
1997 12 282 8.5 34.0
1996 13 270 13.7 36.9
1995 14 288 6.6 41.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index

** Revised

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

For air fares for the following airports, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/atpi/src/index.xml.

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 Angeles 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, Sarasota*, Tampa, West Palm Beach
Georgia: Atlanta, Savannah
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, Grand Rapids, Flint
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, Newburgh, 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, Lubbock, San Antonio
Utah: Salt Lake City
Vermont: Burlington
Virginia: Newport News/Williamsburg*, Norfolk, Richmond
Washington: Seattle, Spokane
Wisconsin: Madison, Milwaukee

* Data available on BTS Air Fare Page BTS Air Fare Page only.