ARC Analysis: Colorado Has Least Expensive Airfares

Colorado was the least expensive location to depart from with a round-trip domestic flight over the past 12 months, ARC reports in its most recent analysis  of airline fares. ARC's conclusion was based on its review of 119 million tickets that originated at the top 150 airports in the continental United States and based on the ticket volume issued through ARC-accredited agencies from May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012.

Excluding Delaware, every state was represented in the sampling, ARC reports.

 To track long-term trends, ARC said it used the same parameters to study more than 770 million tickets from Jan. 1, 2006 through Dec. 31, 2011 and found that the least expensive airfares overall occurred in Florida.

In the study, ARC learned that the average domestic roundtrip airfare for the 12 months ending April 30, 2012 was $207. When looking at each state within the study’s parameters, it showed that during this same period, Colorado’s average airfare was $171, or 18 percent below the national average, while airfares in North Dakota averaged $270, or 30 percent above the national average.

Between 2006 and 2011, the average domestic roundtrip airfare was $178.

The five states with the lowest and highest average roundtrip airfares during the study periods were:

Lowest Average Round-Trip Domestic Airfare
5/1/11 – 4/30/12. Colorado: $171
. Florida: $175. Missouri: $177. Maryland: $178
. Nevada: $179

Lowest Average Round-Trip Domestic Airfare
1/1/06 – 12/31/11
. Florida: $152
. Nevada: $155. Colorado: $157
. Maryland: $157
. Idaho: $160

Highest Average Round-Trip Domestic Airfare
1/1/06 – 12/31/11
. Wyoming: $227
. N. Dakota: $226
. S. Dakota: $220
. Kentucky: $218
. Montana: $218

Besides the $99 spread between the state with the lowest and highest average airfare for the 12 months ending April 30, 2012, ARC also said that from Jan. 1, 2006 through Dec. 31, 2011, states with fares higher than the national average tended to be clustered together in three geographical areas, while those with fares lower than the national average connected the East and West Coasts. States with higher-than-average fares were concentrated in the Upper Midwest/Plains, the South and the Northeast.

“With all the current discussion about airfares, it’s interesting to take a look at how they vary across the country,” said Chuck Thackston, managing director of data and analytics at ARC.

“Although there is no one reason why this deviation should be true, many factors could contribute, including overall traffic volume, level of competition, presence of low-cost carriers, and demographic characteristics of the traveling population such as the composition of business vs. leisure passengers. Remember that this analysis was based on the passenger’s originating state – not their destination. We’ll keep on looking at these data points throughout this year and see if we notice any marked changes,” Thackston said.

ARC's findings have several qualifiers. U.S. domestic simple round-trip itineraries only (travel departing from/returning to the same airport with a single outbound destination) were part of its analysis. ARC also said individual state averages represent the weighted average by percentage of tickets originating from all airports within state. The ARC analysis does not include sales of tickets purchased directly from airlines. and prices reflectt base-fares and do not include taxes, airport fees and surcharges.
The May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012 results were based on 119 million airline ticket transactions by U.S. retail and corporate travel agencies and online travel agencies while January 1, 2006 – December 31, 2011 results were based on 770 million airline ticket transactions.
ARC’s data and analytics division provides services for customers ranging from airlines and travel organizations to the financial industry.  About 16,000 travel agencies and 190 airlines now make up the ARC network. In 2011, ARC reports it settled more than $82 billion worth of transactions between travel sellers and airlines.