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3rd-Quarter 2015 Air Fare Data

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The average domestic air fare decreased to $372 in the third quarter of 2015, down 6.2 percent from $396 in the third quarter of 2014, falling to the lowest level since 2010, adjusted for inflation (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.

U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 3rd Quarter 1995-2015

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U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 3rd Quarter 1995-2015

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ,

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 third quarter of 2015. 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 fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares,” or abnormally high reported fares. Constant 2015 dollars are used for inflation adjustment.

Inflation-Adjusted Air Fares

Third-quarter fares rose 11.9 percent from the recession-affected low of $338 in 2009 to the third quarter of 2011. Since 2011, third-quarter fares have shown little change, decreasing 1.7 percent from 2011 to 2015 (Table 1).

The third-quarter 2015 fare was down 19.4 percent from the average fare of $461 in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted third quarter average fare in the 20 years since BTS began collecting air fare records in 1995. The 19.4 percent decline took place while overall consumer prices rose 37.0 percent. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 16.8 percent compared to a 55.3 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 2). See for historical data.

U.S. passenger airlines collected 75.0 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the third quarter of 2015, down from 87.6 percent in 1995 (Table 1A).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change

Third-quarter fares were down 3.5 percent from the second quarter of 2015, dropping to the lowest inflation-adjusted level since the fourth quarter of 2010 when the average fare was $363. See . 

In the three-year period from the third quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2015, inflation-adjusted fares decreased 1.5 percent. In the two-year period from the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2015, inflation-adjusted fares decreased 6.2 percent (Table 3).

Unadjusted Air Fares

The $372 third-quarter 2015 average fare was down 6.2 percent from the third-quarter 2014 fare of $396, which was the highest average fare for any quarter since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 29.3 percent (Table 4). Third-quarter fares were down 3.5 percent from the second quarter of 2015, dropping to the lowest unadjusted level since the third quarter of 2012 when the average fare was $367 (Table 5).

Fares by Airport

Fares by Airport Size

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Fares by Airport Size

Grouped by the number of originating passengers in the third quarter of 2015, the 12 airports with more than 5 million originating passengers had the highest average fares ($380). Airports with 4 to 5 million originating passengers had the lowest average fares of any group ($339) (Table 6).

Tables listing the airports by group can be found on the .

For additional data, see or . Since average fares are based on the 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. Fourth-quarter 2015 average fare data will be released April 26.

Table 1. 3rd Quarter Average Fare 1995-2015, Adjusted for Inflation

YearAverage Fare in constant 2015 dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q to 3Q) (%)Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) (%)
1995447  
1996406-9.0-9.0
19974172.5-6.7
199845910.02.7
1999450-2.00.7
20004612.63.3
2001404-12.3-9.4
2002399-1.4-10.7
20034010.7-10.1
2004372-7.4-16.8
2005366-1.5-18.0
20063875.7-13.3
2007374-3.4-16.3
20083904.4-12.6
2009338-13.4-24.3
20103709.4-17.1
20113782.2-15.3
2012377-0.3-15.5
20133965.0-11.2
20143960.0-11.3
2015372-6.2-16.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ; and

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 1A. Passenger Airline Revenue from Fares 1990-2015

YearRevenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Operating Revenue* (%)
199088.5
199587.6
200088.9
200187.8
200287.1
200384.9
200480.6
200578.4
200677.6
200777.7
200875.9
200973.7
201074.8
201174.6
201274.1
201374.6
201474.8
2015 (1Q)74.6
2015 (2Q)75.7
2015 (3Q)75.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-12

* From Schedule P-12: Passenger Revenue (Fares) (Acct 3901) as a percentage of Total Operating Revenues (4999).

Table 2. Percent Changes to 2015 in Average Domestic Average Fares and the Inflation Rate* by Year Since 1995

(3rd Quarter to 3rd Quarter for fares; September to September for inflation)

Since 3rd Quarter of ...Duration in YearsAverage Fare in constant 2015 dollars ($)Percent Change in Average Fare to 3rd Quarter 2015 (%)Inflation Rate Change to Sept 2015
2015 372  
20141396-6.20.0
20132396-6.21.6
20123377-1.52.8
20114378-1.74.9
201053700.58.9
200963389.910.2
20087390-4.88.8
20078374-0.614.1
20069387-4.017.3
2005103661.519.7
2004113720.025.3
200312401-7.428.5
200213399-6.831.5
200114404-8.133.5
200015461-19.437.0
199916450-17.341.7
199817459-18.945.4
199718417-10.847.6
199619406-8.550.8
199520447-16.855.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ; and

* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index

Table 3. Inflation-Adjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter

Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter

Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (2015$)
Average Fare in constant 2015 dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
4Q 20113882.7
1Q 2012387-0.4
2Q 20123993.1
3Q 2012377-5.4
4Q 20123882.8
1Q 2013386-0.4
2Q 2013385-0.3
3Q 20133962.9
4Q 2013390-1.6
1Q 2014385-1.3
2Q 20143952.6
3Q 20143960.3
4Q 2014*3980.4
1Q 2015*391-1.7
2Q 2015*385-1.7
3Q 2015*372-3.4

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ; and

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

* Fares for the most recent four quarters are in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.

Table 4. Unadjusted 3rd Quarter Average Fares, 1995-2015

YearAverage Fare in current dollars ($)Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q to 3Q) (%)Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (3Q 1995 to 3Q of each year) (%)
1995288  
1996269-6.3-6.3
19972824.7-1.8
199831511.79.6
19993170.610.3
20003376.117.1
2001303-10.05.4
20023030.15.5
20033123.08.7
2004297-5.13.1
20053063.26.4
20063307.914.8
2007328-0.813.9
20083599.624.8
2009307-14.56.8
201034010.718.2
20113616.225.5
20123671.727.6
20133906.335.7
20143961.637.9
2015372-6.229.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ; and

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 5. Unadjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter

Average Fare and Percent Change by Quarter

Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (current$)
Average Fare in current dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
3Q 2012367-4.6
4Q 20123742.0
1Q 20133781.0
2Q 20133780.0
3Q 20133903.2
4Q 2013382-2.0
1Q 20143820.0
2Q 20143963.5
3Q 20143960.2
4Q 2014393-0.9
1Q 2015388-1.1
2Q 2015385-0.8
3Q 2015372-3.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ; and

Note: Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Table 6. Fares at Airports Grouped by Originating Passengers

Top 100 Airports* Based on 3Q2015 U.S. Originating Domestic Passengers

Airport Groups based on 3Q 2015 Originating PassengersAverage Fare 3rd Quarter 2015 ($)Percent of Total Passengers
5 million+38034
4-5 million33922
3-4 million35217
2-3 million37512
1-2 million37512
less than 1 million3763
Average Fare at All Airports372100

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ; and

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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