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4th-Quarter 2009 Air Fare Data: Average 4th-Quarter Domestic Air Fares Fell 7.4% from 4th Quarter 2008; Top 100 Airports: Highest Fare in Huntsville, Lowest Fare at Atlantic City

4th-Quarter 2009 Air Fare Data: Average 4th-Quarter Domestic Air Fares Fell 7.4% from 4th Quarter 2008; Top 100 Airports: Highest Fare in Huntsville, Lowest Fare at Atlantic City

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BTS 25-10
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - Average domestic air fares in the fourth quarter of 2009 fell to their lowest October-to-December level since 2006, dropping 7.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 in the largest year-to-year decline since 2001 (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 $319 fourth-quarter 2009 average fares were down 10.8 percent from the all-time high, not inflation-adjusted, of $358 in the third quarter of 2008 and down 24.4 percent from the inflation-adjusted high for any fourth-quarter since 1995 set in 2000. The fourth quarter 2009 average fares were up 7.4 percent from the post-9/11 fourth-quarter low of $297 in 2004 (Table 1). BTS air fare records reach back to 1995. See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

Fourth quarter average fares were up 4.2 percent from the third quarter of 2009. Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors (Table 2).

While air fares in the fourth quarter of 2009 declined 6.1 percent since the fourth quarter of 2000, overall prices measured by the inflation rate rose 24.1 percent during that period (Table 6). In the 14 years from 1995, the first year of BTS records, air fares rose 10.9 percent compared to a 40.7 percent inflation rate. In 1995 dollars, the average air fare in the fourth quarter of 2009 was $227, compared to $288 in 1995 and $300 in 2000 (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

See tables below for the following information about the top 100 airports based on 2008 originating passengers:

Table 3: Five highest and five lowest average fares in the fourth quarter: Huntsville, AL, had the highest average fare, $492, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $190. 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 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009: Savannah, GA, had the largest increase, 4.0 percent, and Cincinnati had the largest decrease, 30.8 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 1995 to the fourth quarter of 2009: Dallas Love had the largest increase, 208.5 percent, and White Plains, NY, had the largest decrease, 40.5 percent. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 10 on the BTS website.

See the BTS Air Fare web page for average fares for the top 100 airports. 

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. First-quarter 2010 average fare data will be released on July 28.

The Air Travel Price Index (ATPI) for the fourth quarter of 2009 will be posted on the BTS website on May 26. The ATPI is a separate statistical measure of the level of air fares.

Table 1: 4th 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 4Q Fares ($) Percent change from previous year Percent 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
1995 288         288
1996 278 -3.3 3.3 -3.3 3.3 269
1997 294 5.5 1.7 2.0 5.1 279
1998 316 7.7 1.6 9.9 6.8 296
1999 318 0.6 2.7 10.5 9.6 290
2000 340 7.0 3.4 18.2 13.4 300
2001 300 -11.8 1.6 4.2 15.1 260
2002 309 3.0 2.4 7.3 17.9 262
2003 316 2.2 1.9 9.7 20.1 263
2004 297 -5.9 3.3 3.3 24.0 240
2005 315 5.9 3.4 9.4 28.2 246
2006 318 1.1 2.5 10.5 31.5 242
2007 330 3.6 4.1 14.6 36.8 241
2008 345 4.6 0.1 19.8 37.0 252
2009 319 -7.4 2.7 10.9 40.7 227

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 
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
4Q 2009 319 4.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Average fares from 1Q 2008 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 4th 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 4th Quarter 2009 ($)
  Highest Average Fares  
1 Huntsville, AL 492
2 Savannah, GA 424
3 Grand Rapids, MI 412
4 Knoxville TN 410
5 Newark, NJ 405
Average Fare at All Airports 319
Lowest Average Fares  
1 Atlantic City, NJ 190
2 Long Beach, CA 230
3 Dallas Love, TX 235
4 Orlando, FL 239
5 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 240

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 4th Quarter 2008 ($) 4th Quarter 2009 ($) Percent Change from 4th Qtr 2008
   Largest Increases/Smallest Decreases      
1 Savannah, GA 407 424 4.0
2 Burlington, VT 341 353 3.5
3 Atlantic City, NJ 184 190 3.2
4 New Orleans, LA 293 297 1.3
5 Detroit, MI 334 336 0.7
  Average Fare at All Airports 345 319 -7.4
   Largest Decreases      
1 Cincinnati, OH 554 384 -30.8
2 Milwaukee, WI 331 247 -25.4
3 Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 435 347 -20.3
4 Santa Ana (Orange County), CA 336 286 -14.8
5 San Francisco, CA 405 351 -13.2

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 4th Quarter 1995 ($) 4th Quarter 2009 ($) Percent Change from 4th Qtr 1995
  Largest Increases      
1 Dallas Love, TX 76 235 208.5
2 Colorado Springs, CO 181 370 104.1
3 Houston Hobby, TX 136 265 95.4
4 El Paso, TX 159 304 91.5
5 Reno, NV 154 286 86.2
  Average Fare at All Airports 288 319 10.9
  Largest Decreases      
1 White Plains, NY 476 283 -40.5
2 Manchester, NH 427 305 -28.7
3 Rochester, NY 392 285 -27.3
4 Richmond, VA 439 323 -26.5
5 Akron/Canton, OH 367 270 -26.4

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

(4th Quarter to 4th Quarter for fares; December to December 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 4th Quarter... Duration in Years Average 4Q Itinerary Fare ($) 4th Quarter 2009 Average Fare Compared to Previous Years (% change) Inflation Rate to Dec 2009
2009   319    
2008 1 345 -7.4 2.7
2007 2 330 -3.2 2.8
2006 3 318 0.4 7.0
2005 4 315 1.4 9.7
2004 5 297 7.4 13.5
2003 6 316 1.1 17.2
2002 7 309 3.4 19.4
2001 8 300 6.5 22.2
2000 9 340 -6.1 24.1
1999 10 318 0.4 28.3
1998 11 316 1.0 31.8
1997 12 294 8.8 33.9
1996 13 278 14.7 36.2
1995 14 288 10.9 40.7

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 JoseSanta 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.