ATA Releases December Airfare Figures

The Air Transport Association (ATA) Office of Economics reports that average domestic airfares declined 1.6 percent and average international airfares rose 1.8 percent in December compared to the same month in 2001. The average fare for a 1,000-mile domestic trip was $115.94 (excluding taxes) and the average fare for a 4,000-mile international trip was $372.94 (excluding taxes) in December.

December systemwide revenue passenger miles (RPMs) were up 13.3 percent, versus the same month in 2001. However, when compared to December 2000—a more appropriate comparison following the sharp decline in passenger traffic a year ago—RPMs declined 1.1 percent. Revenue passenger mile is the industry term used to quantify the volume of business; one RPM equals one fare-paying passenger transported one mile.


Available seat miles (ASM) increased 5.2 percent in December as compared to 2001, but declined 7.5 percent when compared to 2000. Available seat mile is a standard unit of air transport passenger capacity, defined as one seat transported one mile.


December results were skewed by the partial shift of the Thanksgiving holiday from December.


“For the full year, relative to 2000, fares were down twice as much as traffic - 15 percent and 8 percent, respectively - suggesting that a recovery in demand should not be expected in the near term,” said ATA Chief Economist David Swierenga. “For the industry, 2003 will be a critical year financially.”

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The airfare report includes yearly and monthly average domestic coach-class and first/business-class ticket prices and domestic and international average ticket prices overall. Information in the report is compiled from actual prices paid by consumers, which are provided by air carriers to ATA. Airfares are normalized for a 1,000-mile trip domestically and a 4,000-mile trip internationally. The airfare information in this report does not include local, federal or foreign taxes.


Price changes are updated monthly and are compared to the same period of the previous year. Because of strong seasonal differences in airfares, month-to-month comparisons are less useful than comparisons for the same period a year earlier.


The Air Transport Association of America, Inc. is the trade association for leading U.S. airlines. ATA members transport over 95 percent of all the passenger and cargo traffic in the United States.


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