Its official: our airfares are cheap. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) rolled out first quarter 2008 fares for the top 100 airports in the United States. Yup, Akron-Canton Airport made the list and once again, our airfares are the lowest in the State of Ohio. They have crept up a bit, but that isn't all bad news. It's important for airlines to make more money than they spend or else no one will be flying anywhere.
We are lucky though, that AirTran Airways keeps domestic fares low at CAK. They fly more than 60,000 folks a month to/from here, just about half our total traffic. Plus, they fly nonstop to great destinations like New York, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, Tampa and Ft. Myers (seasonally). Many communities throughout the country are experiencing significant drop-offs in passenger traffic and we are actually growing. We were up 7.7% in June compared to last year. Clearly, our lower fares are attracting more and more passengers.
We still don't know exactly what will happen in the fourth quarter of this year and 2009 is yet an extended mystery, but at this moment in time, we are doing well.
Average Fares at Ohio Airports 1Q/ 2008 (BTS Airfare Report)
Ranked from low to high
Akron-Canton $287.54Columbus $323.32Dayton $337.79Cleveland $349.36Cincinnati $535.32
Alison Grant, the transportation beat reporter at the Plain Dealer, wisely pointed out in her article on the subject, that although fares have increased significantly year over year, they haven't nearly kept pace with inflation. She writes: "Average fares increased 11.7 percent from the first quarter of 1995 to the first quarter of 2008. The cumulative inflation rate during that period was 41 percent."
Fares must continue to rise, if airlines are going to survive. It's not just fares though, fees for extra bags (bags are heavy peeps), soda beverages (ever picked up a case of soda?), and choice seats (which don't show up in the fare data) are also driving up the cost to fly.
Hey, don't think I'm complaining though. If you need to get across the country fast- and I do…I'm off to LA on Saturday- I'd much rather be in the air for a few hours than in a car, bus or train for a few days.
Here's to hoping that gas prices keep coming down. Cheers!