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3rd-Quarter 2011 Domestic Air Fares Rose 6.2% from 3rd Quarter 2010

3rd-Quarter 2011 Domestic Air Fares Rose 6.2% from 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 100 Airports: Highest Fares at Cincinnati, Lowest Fare at Atlantic City

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Domestic Air Fares

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Domestic Air Fares

Thursday, January 26, 2012 - Average domestic air fares rose to $361 in the third quarter of 2011, up 6.2 percent from the average fare of $340 in the third quarter of 2010 (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. Cincinnati had the highest average fare, $488, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $167 (Table 3).

Third-quarter fares decreased 2.4 percent from the second 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.

Not inflation-adjusted, the $361 third-quarter 2011 average fares were up 0.5 percent from the previous third-quarter high of $359 in 2008. Unadjusted third-quarter fares dropped to $307 in 2009 during the recession. Third-quarter 2011 fares were up 17.5 percent from the 2009 low, not adjusted for inflation (Table 6).

Third-quarter 2011 fares, not adjusted for inflation, were the second highest of any quarter, slightly below the high of $370 in the second quarter of 2011. Adjusted for inflation, third-quarter 2011 fares in 1995 dollars were $244, down 18.0 percent from the third quarter of 2000, which, at $297, was the inflation-adjusted high for any third quarter since 1995 (Table 1). BTS air fare records begin in 1995. See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

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 third quarter of 2011 increased 7.1 percent from the third quarter of 2000, not adjusted for inflation, compared to an overall increase in consumer prices of 30.6 percent during that period. In the 16 years from 1995, the first year of BTS air fare records, air fares rose 25.5 percent compared to a 48.1 percent inflation rate (Table 6). The average inflation-adjusted third-quarter 2011 fare in 1995 dollars was $244 compared to $288 in 1995 and $297 in 2000 (Table 1).

See tables below for the following information about the top 100 airports based on 2010 originating passengers.

Table 3: Five highest and five lowest average fares in the third quarter: Cincinnati had the highest average fare, $488, while Atlantic City had the lowest, $167. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 8 on the BTS website.

Table 4: Five largest increases and five largest decreases from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011: Bellingham, WA, had the largest increase, 18.0 percent, and Charleston, SC, had the largest decrease, 10.1 percent. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 9 on the BTS website.

Table 5: Five largest increases and five largest decreases from the third quarter of 2000 to the third quarter of 2011: Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA, had the largest increase, 57.6 percent, and White Plains, NY, had the largest decrease, 43.1 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. Rankings can also be found on the BTS website. Fares for Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico airports, which are not included in rankings, are available on the web page. Average fares for all airports are also available. 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.

Fourth-quarter 2011 average fare data will be released on April 25.

Table 1: 3rd 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 3Q Fares ($) Percent change from previous year Percent change from 1995
AverageFares (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   153.2     288
1996 269 -6.3 157.8 -6.3 3.0 262
1997 282 4.7 161.2 -1.8 5.2 268
1998 315 11.7 163.6 9.6 6.8 295
1999 317 0.6 167.9 10.3 9.6 289
2000 337 6.1 173.7 17.1 13.4 297
2001 303 -10.0 178.3 5.4 16.4 260
2002 303 0.1 181.0 5.5 18.1 257
2003 312 3.0 185.2 8.7 20.9 258
2004 297 -5.1 189.9 3.1 24.0 239
2005 306 3.2 198.8 6.4 29.8 236
2006 330 7.9 202.9 14.8 32.4 249
2007 328 -0.8 208.5 13.9 36.1 241
2008 359 9.6 218.8 24.8 42.8 251
2009 307 -14.5 216.0 6.8 41.0 218
2010 340 10.7 218.4 18.2 42.6 238
2011 361 6.2 226.9 25.5 48.1 244

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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Year Revenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Revenue* (%)
1990 87.6
1995 85.6
2000 84.1
2001 82.7
2002 82.3
2003 79.5
2004 76.6
2005 75.0
2006 74.4
2007 74.3
2008 72.9
2009 70.2
2010 71.3
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.

Excel | CSV

Quarter/Year Average Domestic Fares
Avg Fare ($) Pct. Change from Previous Quarter (%)
2Q 2009 302 -3.8
3Q 2009 307 1.7
4Q 2009 320 4.2
1Q 2010 328 2.6
2Q 2010 341 3.8
3Q 2010 340 -0.3
4Q 2010 335 -1.5
1Q 2011 356 6.3
2Q 2011 370 3.9
3Q 2011 361 -2.4

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 3rd 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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Rank Origin 3rd Quarter 2011 ($)
  Highest Average Fares  
1 Cincinnati, OH 488
2 Huntsville, AL 473
3 Memphis, TN 472
4 Houston Bush, TX 469
5 Washington Dulles 468
  Average Fare at All Airports 361
  Lowest Average Fares  
1 Atlantic City, NJ 167
2 Long Beach, CA 240
3 Bellingham, WA 253
4 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 256
5 Orlando, FL 263

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 Percent Increases and Decreases 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.

Excel | CSV

Rank Origin 3rd Quarter 2010 ($) 3rd Quarter 2011 ($) Percent Change (%)
  Largest Increases      
1 Bellingham, WA 215 253 18.0
2 Harrisburg, PA 380 443 16.7
3 Ft. Myers, FL 251 292 16.3
4 Richmond, VA 340 392 15.3
5 Indianapolis, IN 314 358 14.0
  Average Fare at All Airports 340 361 6.2
  Largest Decreases      
1 Charleston, SC 451 405 -10.1
2 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC 415 374 -9.7
3 Knoxville TN 435 422 -3.0
4 Fresno, CA 420 413 -1.6
5 Washington Reagan National 374 370 -1.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 5: 10-Year Change by Airport: Top 5 Percent Increases and Decreases in U.S. Domestic Average Itinerary Fare, 2001-2011

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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Rank Origin 3rd Quarter 2000 ($) 3rd Quarter 2011 ($) Percent Change (%)
  Largest Increases      
1 Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA 189 299 57.6
2 El Paso, TX 260 378 45.5
3 Reno, NV 232 335 44.2
4 Dallas Love, TX 192 276 43.4
5 Houston Hobby, TX 219 308 40.4
  Average Fare at All Airports 337 361 7.1
  Largest Decreases      
1 White Plains, NY 555 316 -43.1
2 Bellingham, WA 379 253 -33.2
3 Denver, CO 436 316 -27.6
4 Long Beach, CA 316 240 -24.0
5 Milwaukee, WI 366 285 -22.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 6: Percent Changes to 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 3rd Quarter... Duration in Years Average 3Q Itinerary Fare ($) Percent Change in Average Fare to 3rd Quarter 2011 Inflation Rate to Sep 2011
2011   361    
2010 1 340 6.2 3.9
2009 2 307 17.5 5.1
2008 3 359 0.5 3.7
2007 4 328 10.1 8.8
2006 5 330 9.3 11.8
2005 6 306 17.9 14.1
2004 7 297 21.6 19.5
2003 8 312 15.5 22.5
2002 9 303 18.9 25.4
2001 10 303 19.0 27.3
2000 11 337 7.1 30.6
1999 12 317 13.7 35.1
1998 13 315 14.4 38.7
1997 14 282 27.8 40.8
1996 15 269 33.9 43.8
1995 16 288 25.5 48.1

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 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, 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