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America’s Most Expensive Airports Aren’t What They Used to Be, Now They’re the Cheapest!

Two of the cities with last year’s most expensive airfares are now among the cheapest destinations in the U.S. according to a new report.

The just released CheapFlights 2015 Airport Affordability Report seems to back U.S. airlines’ assertion that competition is alive and well in the industry, even after the massive consolidation over the last few years. The annual index surveys airfares at the 100 airports that its users search most often. The two airports that rank first and second for affordability this year were among the most expensive cities to fly to according to last year’s report.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is ranked as the most affordable U.S. airport in the 2015 index, but in the 2014 report, CVG was ranked 77 out of 100 US airports. Likewise, the second cheapest airfares were found at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) according to this year’s study. The airport was ranked 73 in the 2014 report. The full rankings can be found below:

CheapFlights 2015 Airport Affordability Index

Time Magazine’s Brad Tuttle argues that airline consolidation may have helped to drastically lower fares at CVG and ATL in recent months. Tuttle notes that as legacy carriers have reduced service at the airports, low cost airlines have moved to fill the void.

“Sensing opportunity, smaller airlines more likely to offer discount flights stepped in to occupy some of the space formerly occupied by the legacy carriers,” Tuttle asserts. “As a result, overall fares at the airport dropped.”

No matter what the reason behind the dramatic shift in air fares at the two now-cheapest airports in the U.S., the 2015 CheapFlights Airport Affordability Report will provide fodder for airline executives defending themselves against charges that the recent rash of mergers has allowed U.S. carriers to collude to keep ticket prices highThe report seems to indicate that competition and price volatility have survived in the post-consolidation world, as well as reinforce the argument that consolidation has benefited at least some passengers.

[Photo: iStock; Table: Cheapflight]

Comments are Closed.
cestmoi123 July 28, 2015

To see if this analysis has any real validity, we'd need to see what the basket of destinations is, and what the weighting on that basket is. If you're not using a standardized destination basket, then the question of "how expensive is it to fly from XYZ" gets drowned by the differing mix of "where do people fly from XYZ." To give a highly simplified example, imagine if people in the Bay Area all fly from SFO and from OAK, and they only fly to JFK and LAX. SFO is 75/25 JFK/LAX, while OAK is 25/75 JFK/LAX. SFO-JFK is $500, OAK-JFK is $600, SFO-LAX is $200, and OAK-LAX is $250. So, for both LAX and JFK, it's cheaper to fly out of SFO. The average SFO ticket is $425, though, vs. only $338 for OAK, implying OAK is "cheaper," even though it's always cheaper for any given passenger to fly out of SFO.

sdsearch July 28, 2015

And once again, no mention of where HSV (Huntsville-Decatur AL) is. Last year it was even more expensive than HNL, but never showed up at all on this particular list. (There must therefore be other lists out there, if there's one that includes HSV.) And yes, their idea of using both domestic and international flights, when some airports high on the list don't do longhaul international flights, distorts the list. There must be someone else who does more comprehensive list, the one that has put HSV at the most expensive in prior years.

JohnnyRockets July 27, 2015

Interesting find, questionable output. Just because there are bunch of flights flying short distances mean they are more affordable. Look at DCA vs IAD or JFK vs LGA. (comparing apples to apples, I don't remember even seeing same destinations from these 2 have 30-50% price difference like the findings). And amazingly how MDW are ripping you even if ORD has lots of intl flights.