Low-Fare Carriers Increase Long Hauls

Expansion produces cheaper tickets in growing number of U.S. markets

Low-fare airlines are serving more longer-distance markets than in previous years, pushing ticket prices down in a growing number of markets, according to a federal study.

While low-fare airlines have for years helped reduce fares through competition in dense, short-haul markets, some of these carriers have expanded into long-haul, transcontinental markets, the U.S. Department of Transpo- rtation said in its third-quarter 2002 Domestic Airline Fares Consumer Report released earlier this month.

Low-fare carriers that have started or expanded their long-haul services over the past several years include AirTran Airways, ATA Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

Those low-fare carriers, as a group, were operating in 26 percent more long-haul markets in the third quarter last year than in the same period of 2000, the DOT said. They expanded in short-haul markets by less than 5 percent during the same period.

In these long-haul markets, average fares declined about 29 percent over the two years while the low-fare carriers’ passenger traffic increased 179 percent.

The full report, at http://ostpxweb.dot.gov/aviation/ under “What’s Hot,” provides information on airfares for the top 1,000 city-pair markets in the 48 contiguous states.