Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Long Beach Airport has nation's lowest fares

LONG BEACH - Flying doesn't get any cheaper than Long Beach Airport.

The city-owned airport offered the lowest fares of the top 100 airports in the nation, according to a federal transportation study that examined changes from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009.

Long Beach's average fare landed at $207 compared with $315 nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Data were calculated using both one-way and round-trip fares charged by airlines, as well as fees and taxes charged by airports. Frequent flier and other promotions were not included.

Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez said Long Beach's fares are lower in part because the cost of doing business here for airlines is the second lowest in the state.

Rodriguez said it runs airlines about $5.30 cents a passenger to fly out of Long Beach - about half of the cost at Los Angeles International Airport.

Competition from LAX, John Wayne, Burbank and other airports helps bring down prices.

"We are in an incredibly competitive market," Rodriguez said. "It's a very strong aviation market. It has wonderful demand. Long beach offers a very competitive product with JetBlue, Alaska, Delta and US Air."

The recession has had an impact. Ticket prices dropped 9.1 percent nationwide from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009.

California's suburban airports offered some of the lowest prices in the country. Oakland ($227) and Burbank ($231) ranked right behind LGB. Rounding out the top 5 were Dallas Love ($231) and Las Vegas ($235).

The most expensive airports were in smaller markets: Huntsville, Ala. ($505), Cincinnati ($446), Grand Rapids, Mich. ($418), Savannah, Ga. ($405), and Des Moines, Iowa ($403).

Higher prices are generally based on a lack of competition in smaller markets, Rodriguez said.

Long Beach fares experienced a 16 percent drop - from $247 to $207 - the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009. Prices at LGB were also among the slowest to increase since the mid-1990s.

"If we can provide higher quality service at a lower cost we've done our job," Rodriguez said.

(Press Telegram)

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