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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

4th-Quarter 2017 Air Fare Data

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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The average domestic air fare rose to $347 in the fourth quarter of 2017, rising 3.0 percent from $337 in the third quarter of 2016, which was the lowest inflation-adjusted quarterly average fare in 23 years of air fare records (Table 1), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.

 

Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 4th Quarter 1995-2017, 4Q 2017

Unadjusted 4Q Fares (current dollars) Inflation-Adjusted 4Q Fares (2017 $)
1995 288 462
1996 278 433
1997 294 448
1998 316 476
1999 318 466
2000 340 482
2001 300 417
2002 309 420
2003 316 422
2004 297 384
2005 315 392
2006 318 389
2007 330 388
2008 345 400
2009 320 365
2010 335 377
2011 368 402
2012 374 401
2013 382 404
2014 393 410
2015 363 377
2016 347 354
2017 347 347
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey

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 37 percent of fares calculated for the fourth quarter of 2017. The average domestic one-way air fare was $247 in the fourth quarter of 2017, while the average round-trip air fare was $417. 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.” Constant 2017 dollars are used for inflation adjustment.

Inflation-Adjusted Air Fares

The fourth-quarter fare of $347 was down 1.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016, adjusted for inflation and up 3.0 percent from the third quarter of 2017. The fourth-quarter 2017 fare was down 27.9 percent from the average fare of $482 in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted fourth quarter average fare on record. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 24.8 percent (Table 1). See BTS Air Fare web page for historical data.

In recent years, airlines have obtained additional revenue from fees charged to passengers, as well as from other sources. U.S. passenger airlines collected 74.7 percent of their total revenue from passenger fares during the first three quarters of 2017, the most recent numbers available, down from 87.6 percent in 1995 (Figure 1, Table 2).

Quarter-to-Quarter Change

Average fares increased 3.0 percent from $337 in the third quarter of 2017 to $347 in the fourth quarter of 2017. Average fares rose slightly in each quarter from the third quarter of 2016 until the second quarter of 2017 before dropping 6.0 percent in the third quarter. Fares then increased by 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 (Table 3).

Annual Fares

The average 2017 inflation-adjusted fare of $348 was down 2.5 percent from $357 in 2016. The 2017 average was the lowest annual inflation-adjusted fare in 23 years of BTS records and was down 28.0 percent from the all-time annual high of $483 in 2000.  Unadjusted, the 2017 average fare of $348 was up 12.0 percent from the post-recession low of $310 in 2009 but down 11.3 percent from the recent peak of $392 in 2014. The unadjusted annual fare was down 0.4 percent from 2016. See Annual Fares.

Unadjusted Air Fares

The $347 fourth-quarter 2017 average fare was virtually unchanged from the fourth quarter 2016 fare. The fourth quarter 2017 fare was down 11.5 percent from the fare of $393 in the fourth quarter of 2014, which was the highest average fare for any fourth quarter since 1995. Since 1995, unadjusted fares rose 20.7 percent compared to a 60.6 percent increase in overall consumer prices (Table 4).

The fourth quarter 2017 average fare of $347 was virtually unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2016 but over two years, was down 4.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 ($363) (Table 5). See BTS Air Fare web page for historical data.

Fares by Airport

Of airports grouped by the number of originating passengers in the fourth quarter of 2017, the six airports with between 50,000 and 99,999 originating passengers had the highest average fares ($384). The eleven airports with 1.0 to 1.49 million originating passengers had the lowest average fares of any group ($330) (Table 6).

Tables listing the airports by group can be found on the BTS Air Fare web page.

For additional data, see Top 100 Airports 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. First Quarter 2018 average fare data will be released July 17.

Note: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10 percent sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. For results based on all itinerary fares, the standard error is 0.29. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $335.35 to $336.30. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.36. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $409.08 to $410.25. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.34. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $240.91 to $242.04.

Note: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10 percent sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. For results based on all itinerary fares, the standard error is 0.29.  The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $346.85 to $347.81. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.35. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $416.40 to $417.56. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.38. The 90 percent confidence interval ranges from $245.96 to $247.21.

Table 1. 4th Quarter Average Fare 1995-2017, Adjusted for Inflation, 4Q 2017

Year 4Q Average Fare in constant 2017 dollars ($) Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q to 4Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q 1995 to 4Q of each year) (%) Percent Change in Average Fare to 4th Quarter 2017 (%)
1995 462 -24.8
1996 433 -6.3 -6.3 -19.8
1997 448 3.5 -3.0 -22.5
1998 476 6.1 2.9 -27.0
1999 466 -2.0 0.8 -25.5
2000 482 3.4 4.3 -27.9
2001 417 -13.4 -9.7 -16.7
2002 420 0.8 -9.0 -17.4
2003 422 0.3 -8.7 -17.7
2004 384 -8.9 -16.8 -9.6
2005 392 2.1 -15.1 -11.5
2006 389 -0.8 -15.8 -10.7
2007 388 -0.3 -16.1 -10.4
2008 400 3.1 -13.5 -13.1
2009 365 -8.7 -21.0 -4.8
2010 377 3.4 -18.4 -7.9
2011 402 6.5 -13.0 -13.6
2012 401 -0.3 -13.3 -13.3
2013 404 0.8 -12.6 -14.0
2014 410 1.5 -11.2 -15.3
2015 377 -8.1 -18.4 -7.8
2016 354 -6.1 -23.4 -1.9
2017 347 -1.9 -24.8 0.0
Notes:

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares

Table 2. Passenger Airline Revenue from Fares 1990-2017

Year Revenue from Passenger Fares as Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline Operating Revenue* (%)
1990 88.5
1995 87.6
2000 88.9
2001 87.8
2002 87.1
2003 84.9
2004 80.6
2005 78.4
2006 77.6
2007 77.7
2008 75.9
2009 73.7
2010 74.8
2011 74.6
2012 74.1
2013 74.6
2014 74.8
2015 74.7
2016 74.1
2017 (thru Sept) 74.7
Notes:

* From Schedule P-1.2: Passenger Revenue (Fares) (Acct 39010) as a percentage of Total Operating Revenues (49990).

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-1.2

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

Quarter/Year Average Domestic Fare (2017$)
Average Fare in constant 2017 dollars ($) Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
4Q 2015 377 -2.0
1Q 2016 375 -0.4
2Q 2016 360 -4.0
3Q 2016 352 -2.2
4Q 2016 354 0.6
1Q 2017 356 0.7
2Q 2017 359 0.6
3Q 2017 337 -6.0
4Q 2017 347 3.0
Notes:
Percent change based on unrounded numbers
* Fares for the most recent four quarters are in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.
Description
Quarter/YearAverage Domestic Fare (2017$)
Average Fare in constant 2017 dollars ($)Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
4Q 2015377-2.0
1Q 2016375-0.4
2Q 2016360-4.0
3Q 2016352-2.2
4Q 20163540.6
1Q 20173560.7
2Q 20173590.6
3Q 2017337-6.0
4Q 20173473.0
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares

Table 4. Unadjusted 4th Quarter Average Fares, 1995-2017, 4Q 2017

Year Average Fare in current dollars ($) Year-to-Year Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q to 4Q) (%) Cumulative Percent Change in Average Fare (4Q 1995 to 4Q of each year) (%) Inflation Rate from 1995 (Sep 1995 to Sep of each year)*
1995 288 N/A N/A N/A
1996 278 -3.3 -3.3 3.2
1997 294 5.5 2.0 5.1
1998 316 7.7 9.9 6.7
1999 318 0.6 10.5 9.5
2000 340 7.0 18.2 13.3
2001 300 -11.8 4.2 15.4
2002 309 3.0 7.3 17.9
2003 316 2.2 9.7 20.2
2004 297 -5.9 3.3 24.2
2005 315 5.9 9.4 28.8
2006 318 1.1 10.6 31.3
2007 330 3.6 14.6 36.5
2008 345 4.7 20.0 38.7
2009 320 -7.4 11.1 40.7
2010 335 4.7 16.3 42.5
2011 368 10.0 28.0 47.2
2012 374 1.6 30.0 50.0
2013 382 2.1 32.8 51.8
2014 393 2.8 36.4 53.7
2015 363 -7.7 26.0 54.4
2016 347 -4.4 20.5 57.2
2017 347 0.2 20.7 60.6
Notes:
Percent change based on unrounded numbers
* Rate calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics General Consumer Price Index
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares

Table 5. Unadjusted Average Domestic Airline Fares by Quarter, 4Q 2017

Quarter/Year Average Domestic Fare (current$)
Average Fare in current dollars ($) Quarter-to-Quarter Percent Change in Average Fare (%)
4Q 2015 363 -2.5
1Q 2016 361 -0.4
2Q 2016 351 -2.9
3Q 2016 344 -1.9
4Q 2016 347 0.8
1Q 2017 352 1.5
2Q 2017 356 1.2
3Q 2017 336 -5.6
4Q 2017 347 3.4
Notes:

Percent change based on unrounded numbers

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares

Table 6. Fares at Airports Grouped by Originating Passengers, 4Q 2017

Airport Groups based on 4Q 2017 Originating Passengers Average Fare 4th Quarter 2017 ($) Percent of Total Passengers
2 million+ 343 23
1.5-1.99 million 346 14
1.0-1.49 million 330 19
500-999,000 336 22
100-499,000 363 14
50-99,999 384 1
Average Fare at Top 100 Airports 343 93
Average Fare at All Airports 347 100
Notes:

* Not including Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, https://www.bts.gov/explore-topics-and-geography/topics/air-fares