U.S. airports: What fare is fair? - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

U.S. airports: What fare is fair?

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The Bureau of Transportation puts Huntsville International at the top of the list out of 100 airports with the highest average fare at $544. The Bureau of Transportation puts Huntsville International at the top of the list out of 100 airports with the highest average fare at $544.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

For years, North Alabama travelers have hit the roads just to fly out of either Nashville or Birmingham to escape typically higher ticket prices at Huntsville International Airport - an airport that has once again hit number one on the list for high fares.

WAFF investigated who is behind the controls on fares.

Huntsville International Airport Deputy Director Butch Roberts wanted to clear up a few misconceptions.

"The airlines control 100 percent of what is charged in Huntsville or any other state in the United States," said Roberts.

The airport does not operate with any help from our tax dollars. They are supported solely by the people who use it through parking fees, concessions, rentals and what they charge airlines to use the airport, which is called a cost per passenger charge. For Huntsville, that's $10.28 - the only thing the airport CAN control.

"So if we didn't charge anything to operate from this airport, it would only drop your fare, $10 to $11," added Roberts.

The Bureau of Transportation puts Huntsville International at the top of the list out of 100 airports with the highest average fare at $544. However, that's only the top 100, if you put Huntsville up against the more than 450 airports across the country, Huntsville actually comes in at 105.

Aviation experts say low passenger volumes, no competition, and last minute business travelers really impact fares in Huntsville.

"If you take a look at the airport, it charges roughly $10 a passenger. Look at New York, JFK - they charge $25 a passenger but have fares that are $200 cheaper, it's what the market will bear," said Air Transportation Research Engineer, Bill Swelbar, meaning companies will pay the higher fares to get employees to that important meeting.

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 removed government control over airline prices, routes or service, so airlines can price fares differently in every market.

We contacted the four carriers that serve Huntsville: Delta, U.S. Airways, American Airlines and United Airlines.

U.S. Airways and American Airlines returned our requests and both said the same:

"For competitive reasons and because the Department of Justice considered this to be an antitrust issue, we do not discuss pricing."

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