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3rd-Quarter 2016 Air Fare Data

Press Release Number: 
BTS 04-17
Date: 
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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The average domestic air fare decreased to $344 in the third quarter of 2016, down 8.8 percent from $377 in the third quarter of 2015, adjusted for inflation (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. 

Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 3rd Quarter 1995-2016

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Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 3rd Quarter 1995-2016

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, BTS Air Fares, Origin and Destination Survey

BTS 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. One-way trips accounted for 38 percent of fares calculated for the third quarter of 2016. The average domestic one-way air fare was $242 in the third quarter of 2016, while the average round-trip air fare was $424. 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 fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares.”  Constant 2016 dollars are used for inflation adjustment.

Inflation-Adjusted Air Fares
Third-quarter fares rose 17.2 percent from the recession-affected low of $343 in 2009 to the third quarter of 2014. In the two-year period from the third quarter of 2014, fares fell 14.4 percent to the third quarter of 2016 (Table 1).

The third-quarter 2016 fare was down 26.5 percent from the average fare of $468 in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted third quarter average fare in the 21 years since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 24.1 percent (Table 2). See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

In recent years, airlines have obtained additional revenue from fees charged to passengers as well as from other sources. U.S. passenger airlines collected 74.7 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the third quarter of 2016, down from 87.6 percent in 1995 (Table 1A).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change
Average fares have declined for seven consecutive quarters after reaching an inflation-adjusted recent high of $404 in the fourth-quarter of 2014 (Table 3).

Unadjusted Air Fares
The $344 third-quarter 2016 average fare was down 13.2 from the third quarter 2014 fare of $396, which was the highest average fare for any quarter since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 19.6 percent compared to a 57.6 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

Third-quarter 2016 fares were down 2.4 percent from the second quarter of 2016, dropping to the lowest unadjusted level since the fourth quarter of 2010 when the average fare was $335 (Table 5). See Air Fares for historical data.

Fares by Airport

Figure 2. Fares by Airport Group based on Number of Originating Domestic Passengers 3Q 2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 2. Fares by Airport Group based on Number of Originating Domestic Passengers 3Q 2016

Of airports grouped by the number of originating passengers in the third quarter of 2016, the 53 airports with between 100,000 and 499,999 originating passengers had the highest average fares ($356). Airports with 1.5 to 1.99 million originating passengers had the lowest average fares of any group ($329) (Table 6).

Tables listing the airports by group can be found on the BTS Air Fare web page.

For additional data, see Top 100 Airports 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. Fourth-quarter 2016 average fare data will be released April 25.

 

Table 1. 3rd Quarter Average Fare 1995-2016, Adjusted for Inflation

Year Average Fare in constant 2016 dollars ($) Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q to 3Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) (%)
1995 453    
1996 412 -9.0 -9.0
1997 423 2.5 -6.7
1998 465 10.0 2.7
1999 456 -2.0 0.7
2000 468 2.6 3.3
2001 410 -12.3 -9.4
2002 405 -1.4 -10.7
2003 407 0.7 -10.1
2004 377 -7.4 -16.8
2005 372 -1.5 -18.0
2006 393 5.7 -13.3
2007 379 -3.4 -16.3
2008 396 4.4 -12.6
2009 343 -13.4 -24.3
2010 375 9.4 -17.1
2011 384 2.2 -15.3
2012 383 -0.3 -15.5
2013 402 5.0 -11.2
2014 402 0.0 -11.3
2015 377 -6.2 -16.8
2016 344 -8.8 -24.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/airfares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

 

Table 1A. Passenger Airline Revenue from Fares 1990-2016

Year Revenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Operating Revenue* (%)
1990 88.5
1995 87.6
2000 88.9
2001 87.8
2002 87.1
2003 84.9
2004 80.6
2005 78.4
2006 77.6
2007 77.7
2008 75.9
2009 73.7
2010 74.8
2011 74.6
2012 74.1
2013 74.6
2014 74.8
2015 74.7
2016 (1Q) 73.7
2016 (2Q) 74.3
2016 (3Q) 74.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-1.2

* From Schedule P-1.2: Passenger Revenue (Fares) (Acct 3901) as a percentage of Total Operating Revenues (4999).

 

Table 2. Percent Changes to 2016 in Average Domestic Average Fares Since 1995

(3rd Quarter to 3rd Quarter for fares)

Since 3rd Quarter of ... Duration in Years Average Fare in constant 2016 dollars ($) Percent Change in Average Fare to 3rd Quarter 2016 (%)
2016   344  
2015 1 377 -8.8
2014 2 402 -14.4
2013 3 402 -14.5
2012 4 383 -10.2
2011 5 384 -10.4
2010 6 375 -8.4
2009 7 343 0.2
2008 8 396 -13.2
2007 9 379 -9.3
2006 10 393 -12.4
2005 11 372 -7.4
2004 12 377 -8.8
2003 13 407 -15.5
2002 14 405 -15.0
2001 15 410 -16.2
2000 16 468 -26.5
1999 17 456 -24.6
1998 18 465 -26.1
1997 19 423 -18.6
1996 20 412 -16.6
1995 21 453 -24.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, BTS Air Fares and Origin and Destination Survey

* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index

 

Table 3. Inflation-Adjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter

Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter

Quarter/Year Average Domestic Fare (2016$)
Average Fare in constant 2016 dollars ($) Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
2Q 2014 401 2.6
3Q 2014 402 0.3
4Q 2014 404 0.4
1Q 2015 397 -1.7
2Q 2015 390 -1.7
3Q 2015 377 -3.5
4Q 2015* 363 -4.0
1Q 2016* 361 -0.4
2Q 2016* 351 -3.0
3Q 2016* 344 -1.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/airfares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

* Fares for the most recent four quarters are in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.

 

Table 4. Unadjusted 3rd Quarter Average Fares, 1995-2016

Year Average Fare in current dollars ($) Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q to 3Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) (%) Inflation Rate Change to Sept 2016
1995 288 N/A N/A 57.6
1996 269 -6.3 -6.3 53.0
1997 282 4.7 -1.8 49.8
1998 315 11.7 9.6 47.6
1999 317 0.6 10.3 43.8
2000 337 6.1 17.1 39.0
2001 303 -10.0 5.4 35.4
2002 303 0.1 5.5 33.4
2003 312 3.0 8.7 30.4
2004 297 -5.1 3.1 27.1
2005 306 3.2 6.4 21.4
2006 330 7.9 14.8 19.0
2007 328 -0.8 13.9 15.8
2008 359 9.6 24.8 11.8
2009 307 -14.5 6.8 10.5
2010 340 10.7 18.2 10.4
2011 361 6.2 25.5 6.4
2012 367 1.7 27.6 4.3
2013 390 6.3 35.7 3.1
2014 396 1.6 37.9 1.5
2015 372 -6.2 29.3 1.4
2016 344 -7.5 19.6 N/A

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/airfares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

 

Table 5. Unadjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter

Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter

Quarter/Year Average Domestic Fare (current$)
Average Fare in current dollars ($) Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
3Q 2014 396 0.2
4Q 2014 393 -0.9
1Q 2015 388 -1.1
2Q 2015 386 -0.6
3Q 2015 372 -3.7
4Q 2015 363 -2.5
1Q 2016 361 -0.4
2Q 2016 353 -2.4
3Q 2016 344 -2.4

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/airfares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

 

Table 6. Fares at Airports Grouped by Originating Passengers

Top 100 Airports* Based on 3Q2016 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Airport Groups based on 3Q 2016 Originating Passengers Average Fare 3rd Quarter 2016 ($) Percent of Total Passengers
2 million+ 337 28
1.5-1.99 million 329 17
1.0-1.49 million 329 19
500-999,000 351 21
100-499,000 356 15
Average Fare at All Airports 344 100

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/airfares; and http://www.transtats.bts.gov/databases.asp?Mode_ID=1&Mode_Desc=Aviation&...

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico