In a reflection of increased competition among airlines at Charleston International, airfares declined 15 percent at the airport during the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported this week.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports on the average round-trip fares at the nation’s top 100 airports. Some of the latest findings:
Rank/City 2Q 2012 2Q 2013 Change
1. Huntsville, Ala. $513 $547 +6.8%
30. Greenville/Spartanburg $408 $407 -0.2%
34. Charlotte $415 $406 -2.4%
42. Charleston $465 $395 -15%
52. Atlanta $373 $383 +2.7%
58. Jacksonville, Fla. $387 $376 -2.6%
100. Atlantic City, N.J. $169 $159 -5.5%
Note: Columbia and Myrtle Beach not among the top 100.
JetBlue Airways started service to the Northeast with three flights on Feb. 28, so the report includes its first full quarter of flights out of Charleston, South Carolina’s busiest airport.
Charleston’s average airfares declined to $395, a $70 savings over the April-June period in 2012 but $17 higher than the national average, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported.
“I think that’s great news,” said Andy Savage, chairman of Charleston County Aviation Authority, which operates the airport. “It’s the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people to bring Southwest and JetBlue here.”
Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines started service from Charleston in March 2011, and rates have steadily declined since then.
The percentage decrease in Charleston during the second quarter this year was the second highest among the nation’s top 100 airports. The Lowcountry airport ranks 42nd highest in airfares.
Charleston’s rates have dropped nearly 36 percent since 2000, when average fares cost $615, the agency reported.
The airport in North Charleston ranks 86th in number of domestic passengers. Greenville-Spartanburg International comes in at No. 100. Rates at the Upstate airport dropped one dollar to $407, or 0.2 percent, from the second quarter of 2012 to the same period this year. It has the 30th-highest rates in the country.
Columbia and Myrtle Beach airports are not among the top 100 airports in the U.S.
Nationwide, the average price of an airline ticket fell to $378, down 3.6 percent from the average of $392 a year ago.
“Over the past three years, from the second quarter of 2010 to the second quarter of 2013, inflation-adjusted fares decreased 0.6 percent,” the transportation agency said in a statement. “Not adjusting for inflation, the $378 second-quarter 2013 average was the second-highest average fare for any second quarter since 1995. The highest unadjusted second quarter fare was $385 in 2012.”
The report bases fares on round-trip ticket costs, unless a customer purchases a one-way ticket. In that case, the one-way fare is included. The price reflects only the ticket’s value at purchase and does not include baggage fees, frequent-flyer fares or abnormally high fares.
The agency said Huntsville, Ala., posted the highest average fares at $547 while Atlantic City, N.J., reported the lowest fares at $159.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.