Average Airfare Decreases in First Quarter of 2014

First Quarter airfares
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, BTS Air FaresOrigin and Destination Survey

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- The average domestic air fare decreased to $381 in the first quarter of 2014, down 1.0 percent from the average fare of $384 in the first quarter of 2013, adjusted for inflation (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. During that January to March period,Cincinnati, Ohio, had the highest average fare, $514, while Sanford, Florida, had the lowest, $119 (Table 6).

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 34 percent of fares calculated for the first quarter of 2014. 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 either the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares,” or abnormally high reported fares. Constant 2014 dollars are used for inflation adjustment.

Inflation-Adjusted Air Fares
First-quarter fares rose 7.9 percent adjusted for inflation from the recession-affected low of $349 in 2009 to the first quarter of 2011. Since 2011, first quarter fares have shown little change, increasing 1.2 percent from 2011 to 2014 (Table 1).

The first-quarter 2014 fare was down 19.9 percent adjusted for inflation from the average fare of $475 in 1999, the highest inflation-adjusted first quarter average fare in the 19 years since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995 (Table 2).  The 19.9 percent decline took place while there was an increase in overall consumer prices of 43.2 percent. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 17.8 percent compared to a 56.1 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 2). See BTS Air Fare web page for historic data.

U.S. passenger airlines collected 70.2 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the first quarter of 2014, down from 1990 when 87.6 percent of airline revenue was received from fares (Table 1A).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change
In the three-year period from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2014, inflation-adjusted fares increased 1.2 percent. In the two-year period from the first quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2014, inflation-adjusted fares decreased 0.9 percent (Table 3).

Unadjusted Air Fares
Not adjusting for inflation, the $381 first-quarter 2014 average fare was the highest average fare for any first quarter since 1995. The previous highest unadjusted first-quarter fare was $379 in 2013. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 28.2 percent compared to a 56.1 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

Unadjusted first-quarter 2014 fares were down 0.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013 and down 1.9 percent from the third quarter of 2013, the all-time high for any quarter, unadjusted for inflation (Table 5). See Tables 13-16 for additional unadjusted fare data by airport.

Fares by Airport
Tables 6-8 provide fare data on the top 100 airports based on 2013 originating passengers. All figures are reported in 2014 dollars.

Table 6: Five highest and five lowest average fares in the first quarter: Cincinnati had the highest average fare ($514) while Sanford had the lowest ($119). For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 10 on the BTS website.

Table 7: Five largest increases and five largest decreases adjusted for inflation from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014: Colorado Springs, Colorado, had the largest increase (13.2 percent) and Bellingham, Washington, had the largest decrease (-23.7 percent). For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 11 on the BTS website.

Table 8: Five largest increases and five largest decreases adjusted for inflation from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014: Dallas Love, Texas, had the largest increase (28.9 percent) and White Plains, New York, had the largest decrease
(-52.9 percent). For the Top 100 Airports, see Table 12 on the BTS website.

For additional data, see Top 100 AirportsRankings  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 2014 average fare data will be released on Oct 28.

Table 1. 1st Quarter Average Fare 1995-2014, Adjusted for Inflation

Fares are 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 paid at the airport or onboard the aircraft. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or "zero fares" or a few abnormally high reported fares.

  Average Fare in constant 2014 dollars ($) Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (1Q to 1Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (1Q 1995 to 1Q of each year) (%)
1995 463
1996 431 -6.9 -6.9
1997 419 -2.9 -9.6
1998 444 6.1 -4.1
1999 475 7.0 2.6
2000 470 -1.2 1.4
2001 466 -0.7 0.7
2002 423 -9.3 -8.7
2003 409 -3.2 -11.6
2004 404 -1.4 -12.8
2005 368 -8.8 -20.4
2006 382 3.8 -17.4
2007 366 -4.4 -21.0
2008 369 0.8 -20.3
2009 349 -5.5 -24.7
2010 356 2.2 -23.1
2011 376 5.6 -18.8
2012 384 2.1 -17.1
2013 384 0.1 -17.0
2014 381 -1.0 -17.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/airfares and http://www.transtats.bts.gov

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 1A. Passenger Airline Revenue from Fares 1990-2014

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 70.3
2013 70.7
2014 (1Q) 70.2

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).