Cincy airport most expensive in nation, study says

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Cincy airport most expensive in nation, study says

Average Air fares at Ohio airports, 1Q 2012

Cincinnati: $526.25

Cleveland: $449.90

Dayton: $371.61

Columbus: $370.07

Akron/Canton: $321.26

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport had the highest average domestic air fare in the nation during the first quarter of 2012, more than $150 higher than the average fare at Dayton International Airport, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday.

Average domestic air fares rose 4.8 percent nationwide over the same period a year ago, to $373 — an all-time high for any quarter, the transportation department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported. But Cincinnati’s average fare reached $526, the highest of the 100 airports surveyed. Dayton’s average air fare was just below the national average at $372, just ahead of Columbus at $370. Indianapolis was above the average at $387.

“Flying out of Dayton looks better and better to travelers throughout southwest Ohio,” said Chris Kershner, vice president of public policy and economic development for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. The Dayton airport is easy and efficient to get in and out of, and has amenities not found at much larger airports, Kershner said.

“Dayton International Airport has strived to keep air fares low, and this report is proof that it continues to be a significant value over other airports in the region,” Kershner said.

Terrence Slaybaugh, director of aviation for the city of Dayton, said he anticipates the Dayton airport will maintain or improve its price advantage as Southwest Airlines starts flying into and out of the airport in mid-August. But Slaybaugh said Cincinnati’s most-expensive designation “is not good” for economic development efforts in southwest Ohio.

“When we talk with Fortune 500 companies, it’s important to talk about Cincinnati in a positive way,” Slaybaugh said. And some companies consider the availability of reasonably priced air fares to a wide variety of destinations an important factor when making expansion or relocation decisions, he said.

Messages left for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport officials were not returned Thursday.

Earlier this month, the Australia-based Centre for Aviation, which provides aviation-related financial analysis worldwide, released a report saying that the Cincinnati airport’s passenger count dropped 34 percent to 7 million from 2009 to 2011, primarily a result of cutbacks in flights accelerated by Delta’s 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines, which already had a Detroit hub. No other airline has stepped up significantly to fill the void left by Delta’s cuts, and that has contributed to higher-than-average fares, the report said.

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