Air fares are up even without the fees, DOT says

By Associated Press
Posted July 28, 2010 at 1:54 p.m.

If you think air fares have been rising, it’s not your imagination.

Figures just released from the government, though a bit dated, show that airline prices in the first three months of this year rose nearly 5 percent from a year earlier. And that doesn’t include baggage fees and other extras.

But average fares are 25 percent lower than they were in 1999 adjusting for inflation, the government says.
The numbers were in a report issued Wednesday by the Department of Transportation.

The average domestic fare in the first quarter of 2010 rose to $328.  Since 2001, the average price for the first quarter was higher only once –  in 2008, when it hit $333.

The government figures include the ticket price plus taxes and things such as security fees. They don’t include add-ons such as baggage fees. The numbers also are several months old, and information from other sources indicates that prices continued to rise into the summer.

By June, passengers were paying about 18 percent more than they did in June 2009, according to the Air Transport Association, a trade group for the biggest U.S. airlines.

The government says the highest average fare in the first quarter was in Huntsville, Ala., and the lowest was in Atlantic City, N.J.

The figures show the influence of low-cost airlines on local fares. Huntsville is dominated by major airlines and has very limited service by discount carriers — AirTran offers just a few flights to two other cities.

The biggest price increase from  early 2009 to early 2010 was in Charleston, S.C., where AirTran pulled out last December. On the flip side, prices fell the most in Milwaukee. Southwest Airlines began service there last year and competes against AirTran and Frontier.

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