Travelers know they're paying more for air tickets than they did in 2008. Just how much is the question?
A new study released this week by Boyd Group International, an Evergreen, CO-based strategic airline analysis and consulting group, has discovered that it depends on how you approach the analysis.
Boyd Group's research shows the average base one-way fare, including federal fees and taxes, is $219.50, up 12.5 percent from 2008 levels.
But Boyd Group says the "true" price of an airline ticket now must take into account ancillary fees which can add nearly 15 percent to a ticket price. These cover everything from priority boarding to baggage charges.
When that full ticket price is taken into consideration, the average "true" cost of a one-way ticket has increased far more - by just over 29 percent, Boyd Group notes.
Comparing the full years of 2011 and 2012, the report says it's apparent the US airline industry is now focused in revenues, not passenger volume. While passengers for the full year 2012 are down by 1%, all revenue metrics are up.
By combining that fact with the an expected 2.5%+ capacity reduction for 2013, the Boyd Group says these are the conclusions:
The airline industry is on solid market and financial footing;
Market turf is generally already staked out for the major airline systems; and
The air transportation system is not expanding, nor will it see growth anywhere near that predicted by the FAA
Another interesting fact from the report? A low-cost carrier apparently doesn't always equate to lowering "overall" fares from a particular airport. Boyd said eight of the 10 highest-fare airports are home to at least one low-cost carrier.
While the study ranks ticket prices airport-by-airport, Boyd Group advises readers that it's more fair to use cost per mile instead of average ticket price in ratings. For example, Newark's ticket spend is high, but of the 100 top O&D (origin and destination) passenger airports, it ranked 43rd in cost of air fares per mile.
Variables can skew the rankings; these might include an airport's higher level of international service (and thus many higher fares given long-haul flights) or geographic location.
Not surprisingly, the 10 airports with the highest average one-way ticket spend have significant international flights.
Washington Dulles led with $429 one way ticket spend, followed by Honolulu at $396, Houston/Intercontinental with $392, Anchorage with $381, Newark at $373, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky at $353, New York JFK at $366, Miami at $333, Kona at $326 and San Francisco at $325.
As for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, while it doesn't have the high level of international service of many of the other airports, it does have a high level of highsmall jet connecting flights by Delta, causing higher fares.
Agents may find other interesting gleanings in the full report at: http://www.aviationplanning.com/Images/BoydGroup4thQuarter2012TrafficAnalysis.pdf