The average airfare for a domestic flight in the US was $343 in the third quarter of 2018, an all-time low when adjusted for inflation, according to data from the US Department of Transportation.
The low prices haven’t cut too deeply into airline profits, however, since most carriers significantly enhanced their revenues by charging a variety of fees that did not exist in decades past.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the airfare data from July-September 2018 represents a 0.4 per cent decline from the same period in 2017 and a 2 per cent drop-off from the previous quarter in 2018.
An airline industry spokesperson attributed the trend to “intense competition.” Airline profits remained strong thanks in large part to fee income, which now totals about 26 per cent of all airline revenues. In 1995, fees for services like checked bags, flight changes, and assigned seats represented just 12 per cent of airline revenues.
Demand for flights also flirted with all-time highs: 75.2 million people flew on domestic and international flights with US carriers in January 2019, second only to the 75.8 million who flew in just 2018.