DOT Reports First Quarter Domestic Airfares Up

airplaneThe average domestic airfare rose to $379 in the first quarter of 2013, up 0.1 percent from the average fare of $378 in the first quarter of 2012, measured in 2013 dollars, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports. Huntsville, Ala., had the highest average fare, $543, while Atlantic City, N.J., had the lowest, $169.

The first-quarter 2013 fare in 2013 dollars was down 19.1 percent from the average fare of $468 in 1999, the highest of any first quarter adjusted for inflation.

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. 

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 abnormally high reported fares.

Passenger airlines collected 70.1 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the first three months of 2013, down from 1990 when 87.6 percent of airline revenue was received from fares.

From 2000 to 2013, inflation-adjusted fares declined 18.1 percent while there was an overall increase in consumer prices of 36 percent. In the 18 years from 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 17 percent compared to a 53.7 percent increase in consumer prices.

Quarter-to-Quarter Change: Over the past three years, from the second quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2013, inflation-adjusted fares rose 5.6 percent.

Air Fares in Unadjusted Dollars: Not adjusted for inflation, the $379 first-quarter 2013 average fare was the highest average fare for any first quarter since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. The previous first-quarter high was $373 in 2012.

Unadjusted first-quarter 2013 fares were up 1.2 percent from the fourth quarter. The highest and lowest average fares in the first quarter: Huntsville had the highest average fare ($543) while Atlantic City had the lowest ($169). 

The  largest increases and largest decreases in 2013 dollars from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013: Knoxville, Tenn., had the largest increase (16.3 percent) and Memphis, Tenn., had the largest decrease (9.0 percent). 

The largest increases and largest decreases in 2013 dollars from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2013: Dallas Love, Texas., had the largest increase (27.4 percent) and Long Beach, Calif., had the largest decrease (53.0 percent).

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