Study: Smaller airlines helping control airfares

A new study by the travel planning site, Hopper, shows that when airlines such as JetBlue, Spirit, Frontier, Alaska and Southwest launch service on an existing domestic route, the average price from all carriers drops as much as 67percent.

The most popular routes are still dominated by the four biggest carriers which include United, Delta, Southwest, and the soon-to-be merged American and US Airways.

But, the Los Angeles Times spoke with travel industry analysts who point out that even when low-cost carriers launch a new route, fares only drop temporarily.

For example, according to the study, when JetBlue started service between Boston and Philadelphia in May of last year, the average far for all airlines serving that route dropped to $118 from $356.

Travel researchers also pointed out that Spirit and Frontier airlines pushed domestic fares down an average of 30 percent when they entered a new market. Although the lower fares eventually rose again, they typically did not reach the levels at which they had been.

Travel analysts say the lesson learned here is, the more competition you have, the better it is for consumers.


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