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"U.S. Airfares Climb to 5-Year High"
Friday, April 28, 2006
Airfares Climb to 5-Year High
BY CHRIS WALSH
The Denver (CO) Rocky Mountain News
Airfares nationwide recently hit their highest levels since just before the
2001 terrorist attacks, reflecting hefty fuel prices and strong consumer
demand, according to information released Wednesday.
The Air Travel Price Index, which measures quarterly changes in fares paid
by passengers on U.S. carriers, jumped 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter
2005, compared with the same period a year ago, when prices were at
Fares in Denver grew by about 5 percent, although ticket prices have come
down significantly this year with the arrival of low-cost carrier Southwest
The index, released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, showed the
sharpest increases in Cincinnati; Greensboro/High Point, N.C.; Grand Rapids,
Mich; Dayton, Ohio; and Atlanta.
Just two of the nation's top 85 markets posted decreases: Kahului, Hawaii
(on Maui), and Richmond, Va.
"It's absolutely no surprise" that fares are going up, said Hugo Burge, vice
chairman of Boston- based Cheapflights.com. "There's a three-pronged impact
creating increases in prices. One is oil; secondly, there is an insatiable
consumer demand; and thirdly, airlines are determined to return to
Large carriers pushed through numerous modest fare increases last year, and
the trend has continued in 2006.
Still, the index in last year's fourth quarter was just 12.7 percent higher
than during the same period in 1995, without adjusting for inflation.
The airfare scene in Denver, dominated by United and locally based Frontier,
has changed considerably with the arrival of Southwest in January. During
the first week of April, average fares at Denver International Airport were
down 18 percent, compared with the same period last year, according to
consulting firm Harrell Associates.
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