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1st-Quarter Domestic Air Fares Rose 4.8% from 1st Quarter 2011

1st-Quarter Domestic Air Fares Rose 4.8% from 1st Quarter 2011

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

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Domestic Air Fares

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Domestic Air Fares

Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Average domestic air fares rose to $373 in the first quarter of 2012, up 4.8 percent from the average fare of $356 in the first quarter of 2011 (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. Cincinnati had the highest average fare, $526, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $157 (Table 3).

Not adjusted for inflation, the $373 first-quarter 2012 average fares reached an all-time high for any quarter. The previous high was $370 in the second quarter of 2011. The previous first-quarter high was $356 in 2011. First-quarter 2012 fares were $246 in 1995 dollars, down 19.2 percent from $304 in 1999, the inflation-adjusted high for any first quarter since the beginning of BTS air fare records in 1995 (Tables 1 and 2).

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.

Passenger airlines collected 69.5 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the first quarter of 2012, down from 87.6 percent in 1990 (Table 1A).

Air fares in the first quarter of 2012 increased 9.6 percent from the first quarter of 2000, not adjusted for inflation, compared to an overall increase in consumer prices of 34.0 percent during that period. In the 17 years from 1995, the first year of BTS air fare records, air fares rose 25.6 percent compared to a 51.5 percent inflation rate (Table 6). The average inflation-adjusted first-quarter 2012 fare in 1995 dollars was $246 compared to $297 in 1995 and $301 in 2000 (Table 1). BTS air fare records begin in 1995. See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

Unadjusted first-quarter 2012 fares were up 18.8 percent from the recession low of $314 in 2009 and up 23.7 percent from the post 9/11 first-quarter low of $301 in 2005 (Table 1).

First-quarter fares increased 1.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 (Table 2). Quarter-to-quarter changes may be affected by seasonal factors such as the number of passengers. In the last 18 years, U.S. airlines carried an average of 7.8 percent fewer originating passengers in the first quarter of the year than in the fourth quarter. The number of originating passengers rose by 5.0 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from the fourth quarter of 2011. In 1995 dollars, fares declined 0.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012.

See Tables 3-5 for data about the top 100 airports based on 2011 originating passengers.

Table 3: Five highest and five lowest average fares in the first quarter: Cincinnati, a market with a high representation of business travelers, had the highest average fare, $526, while Atlantic City, a leisure-dominated market, had the lowest, $157. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 8 on the BTS website.

Table 4: Five largest increases and five largest decreases from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012: Flint, MI, had the largest increase, 23.7 percent, and Knoxville, TN, had the largest decrease, 9.5 percent. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 9 on the BTS website.

Table 5: Five largest increases and five largest decreases from the first quarter of 2001 to the first quarter of 2012: Dallas Love, TX, had the largest increase, 49.3 percent, and White Plains, NY, had the largest decrease, 38.2 percent. For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 10 on the BTS website.

For additional data, see Top 100 Airports, Rankings 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. Second-quarter 2012 average fare data will be released on Oct. 25.

Table 1: 1st Quarter Average Fares 1995-2012 Compared to Inflation Rate

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Average Domestic 1Q Fares ($) Percent change from previous year Percent change from 1995
Average Fares (1Q to 1Q) Inflation (Mar from previous Mar)* Cumulative Average Fares (1Q 1995 to 1Q of each year) Cumulative inflation rate (Mar of each year from Mar 1995)* Average Fare in 1995 dollars
1995 297 297
1996 284 -4.4 2.8 -4.4 2.8 276
1997 283 -0.2 2.8 -4.5 5.7 268
1998 305 7.5 1.4 2.6 7.1 284
1999 332 8.9 1.7 11.7 9.0 304
2000 340 2.6 3.8 14.6 13.1 301
2001 348 2.2 2.9 17.1 16.4 299
2002 320 -8.0 1.5 7.8 18.1 271
2003 319 -0.3 3.0 7.5 21.7 262
2004 320 0.3 1.7 7.9 23.8 259
2005 301 -5.9 3.1 1.5 27.7 236
2006 323 7.3 3.4 8.9 32.0 245
2007 318 -1.7 2.8 7.1 35.6 234
2008 333 4.9 4.0 12.3 41.0 236
2009 314 -5.8 -0.4 5.7 40.5 223
2010 328 4.6 2.3 10.5 43.7 228
2011 356 8.4 2.7 19.8 47.6 241
2012 373 4.8 2.7 25.6 51.5 246

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 1990-2012

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 71.0
2012 (1Q) 69.5

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

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Quarter/Year Average Domestic Fares
Current $ Inflation-Adjusted
Avg Fare (current $) Pct. Change from Previous Quarter (%) Inflation-Adjusted Avg Fare (1995 $) Pct. Change from Previous Quarter (%)
4Q 2009 320 4.2 224 3.0
1Q 2010 328 2.6 228 1.8
2Q 2010 341 3.8 237 3.7
3Q 2010 340 -0.3 235 -0.5
4Q 2010 335 -1.5 231 -1.8
1Q 2011 356 6.3 241 4.2
2Q 2011 370 3.9 248 2.9
3Q 2011 361 -2.4 241 -2.9
4Q 2011 368 2.1 247 2.7
1Q 2012 373 1.2 246 -0.5

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 1st Quarter 2012

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2011 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

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Rank Origin 1st Quarter 2012 ($)
  Highest Average Fares
1 Cincinnati, OH 526
2 Memphis, TN 520
3 Houston Bush, TX 505
4 Huntsville, AL 503
5 Washington Dulles 485
Average Fare at All Airports 373
Lowest Average Fares
1 Atlantic City, NJ 157
2 Long Beach, CA 210
3 Bellingham, WA 263
4 Las Vegas, NV 267
5 Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA 268

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, First Quarter 2011 to First Quarter 2012

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2011 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

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Rank Origin 1st Quarter 2011 ($) 1st Quarter 2012 ($) Percent Change (%)
  Largest Increases      
1 Flint, MI 308 381 23.7
2 Indianapolis, IN 332 387 16.3
3 White Plains, NY 323 374 15.8
4 Ft. Myers, FL 277 320 15.7
5 Pensacola, FL 389 447 15.0
  Average Fare at All Airports 356 373 4.8
  Largest Decreases/Smallest Increases      
1 Knoxville TN 449 406 -9.5
2 Atlantic City, NJ 172 157 -8.9
3 Charleston, SC 460 424 -7.8
4 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC 407 393 -3.4
5 Long Beach, CA 216 210 -2.9

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, 2001-2012

Top 100 Airports* Based on 2011 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

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Rank Origin 1st Quarter 2001 ($) 1st Quarter 2012 ($) Percent Change (%)
  Largest Increases      
1 Dallas Love, TX 189 282 49.3
2 El Paso, TX 256 373 45.7
3 Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena, CA 185 268 45.2
4 Spokane, WA 246 356 44.7
5 Reno, NV 223 322 44.6
  Average Fare at All Airports 348 373 7.2
  Largest Decreases      
1 White Plains, NY 606 374 -38.2
2 Long Beach, CA 321 210 -34.6
3 Denver, CO 452 321 -29.1
4 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC 541 393 -27.3
5 Atlantic City, NJ 215 157 -27.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 6: Percent Changes to 2012 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)

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Since 1st Quarter... Duration in Years Average 1Q Itinerary Fare ($) Percent Change in Average Fare to 1st Quarter 2012 Inflation Rate to Mar 2012
2012   373 n/a n/a
2011 1 356 4.8 2.7
2010 2 328 13.6 5.4
2009 3 314 18.8 7.8
2008 4 333 11.8 7.4
2007 5 318 17.3 11.7
2006 6 323 15.3 14.8
2005 7 301 23.7 18.7
2004 8 320 16.4 22.4
2003 9 319 16.8 24.5
2002 10 320 16.5 28.3
2001 11 348 7.2 30.2
2000 12 340 9.6 34.0
1999 13 332 12.4 39.0
1998 14 305 22.3 41.4
1997 15 283 31.5 43.4
1996 16 284 31.3 47.3
1995 17 297 25.6 51.5

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