Average domestic airfare hits $391
The nation’s airline industry continued to enjoy strong financial data with fresh government statistics showing that the average domestic air fare for 2014 was $391, the highest fare since the federal government began tracking the data in 1995.
But the higher fares are not diminishing the demand for air travel. A new survey shows that the percentage of U.S. travelers expecting to fly this year is up three percentage points over last year, with many planning to travel abroad.
The data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics were only the latest good news for the airline industry.
Most of the biggest carriers reported record profits for the first quarter of the year, thanks partly to lower fuel costs and strong demand.
Delta Air Lines reported record first-quarter net income of $746 million, compared with $213 million for the same period in 2014. It also predicted that it would save $2 billion in fuel costs in 2015.
“Delta’s business is performing well, producing the best March quarter, both operationally and financially, in Delta’s history,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive.
American Airline’s firstquarter profit was a record $932 million, compared with a profit of $480 million for the same period in 2014. The company attributed the strong numbers primarily to a 42% drop in fuel costs.
Southwest and United airlines reported similarly strong numbers for the first quarter, traditionally one of the weakest three-month periods for carriers.
The 2014 average domestic air fare was slightly higher than the average for 2013 of $389, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
But when adjusted for inflation, the average fare is down 16% from the high of $467 in 2000, the federal agency said.
Demand for air travel is expected to remain strong. A survey by the travel website TripAdvisor found that 92% of website members who were questioned said they plan to take a domestic flight in 2015, up from 89% who said they flew domestically last year.
Among those who plan to travel, 67% said they expect to take an international flight, compared with 60% who did so in 2014, according to the TripAdvisor survey of more than 2,700 website members.
“This year, we’re seeing more interest in international f lights as favorable exchange rates have piqued the interest of U.S. fliers in traveling abroad,” said Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights.