Second Quarter 2020 Air Fare Drops to New Low as Passenger Numbers Decline
U.S. domestic air fares declined in the second quarter of 2020 to $259, the lowest inflation-adjusted quarterly air fare in Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) records dating back to 1995. The previous low was $334 in the first quarter of 2020.
Adjusted for inflation (constant 2020 dollars) the 2Q 2020 air fare was:
- Down 27.8% from 2Q 2019 ($358)
- Down 22.6% from 1Q 2020 ($334)
- Down 38.4% from 2Q 2015 ($420)
Air fares declined along with passenger demand. Airlines reported 11.5 million originating passengers in the second quarter of 2020, down from 87.2 million passengers a year earlier.
The percent change is based on unrounded numbers. COVID-19 effects on travel were significant in the April-June reporting period.
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, BTS Air Fares, Origin and Destination Survey
Figure 1. U.S. Average Domestic Fares, 2nd Quarter 1995-2020
|Unadjusted Fares (current dollars)||Inflation-Adjusted (2020$)||1|
Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Origin and Destination Survey
Other Revenue: In recent years, airlines have increasingly obtained additional revenue from passenger fees, as well as from other sources. U.S. passenger airlines collected 67.6% of total operating revenue of $30.5 billion from passenger fares during the first six months of 2020, down from 88.5% in 1990.
Fares by Airport
Additional data: see Top 100 Airports or All Airports. Third Quarter 2020 average fare data will be released Jan. 19.
Standard error: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10% sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. Averages for airports with smaller samples may be less reliable.
Note: Results for average fares are based on the BTS Origin & Destination Survey, a 10% sample of airline tickets used during the quarter. For Q2 2020 results based on all itinerary fares, the standard error is 0.39 and the median fare is $207.64. The 90% confidence interval ranges from $258.24 to $259.51. For results based on round-trip fares, the standard error is 0.61 and the median fare is $256.87. The 90% confidence interval ranges from $309.69 to $311.71. For results based on one-way fares, the standard error is 0.45 and the median fare is $182.06. The 90% confidence interval ranges from $219.55 to $221.01.