What regional airport has the best deals? Airfare gets cheaper locally

Average airfare from Dayton International Airport is getting significantly cheaper compared to recent years, but other regional airports are still offering competitive — and sometimes better — ticket prices than the Miami Valley’s hometown hub.

Dayton’s airfare decreased to an average $397 in the first quarter of this year, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. That’s a fair drop from the $428 average during the same time period in 2016. It’s still not as low as Dayton’s average airfare was in 2014, when it went down to $389.

While the decrease in average airfare is good news for the Dayton airport, other regional airports also saw greater declines in price. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport’s average airfare dropped to $386 for the first quarter of 2017, compared to its average price of $430 during the same time in 2016.

» RELATED: 5 tips for booking cheap flights

Terry Slaybaugh, Dayton’s director of aviation, said it’s important to note that Dayton is a small hub serving about 1.3 million seats per year, while Cincinnati has much larger hub serving more than 8 million seats per year.

“We’re still pretty competitive with Cincinnati,” he said. “When we look at our service, we think we’re still doing pretty good.”

The average fair from Cincinnati was $514 in 2014 — the most expensive airfare out of Dayton, Columbus, Louisville and Indianapolis. Candace McGraw, chief executive officer of Cincinnati’s airport, said CVG is proud of the “significant improvement we’ve made in our national airfare ranking among the top 100 airports.”

“We continue to diversify our air service offering, growing the number of low-cost carrier flights and destinations, as well as growing the capacity and services of our legacy carriers, so everyone can enjoy the wonder of flight,” MGraw said. “The overall capacity at CVG has grown 20 percent this summer.”

» RELATED: After major growth, Allegiant looks to add more flights in Dayton

Out of regional airports, Dayton is still one of the most expensive hubs for airfare — coming in right behind Louisville’s most expensive average airfare compared to Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Louisville International-Standiford Field has the most expensive average airfare at $424. Louisville’s average airfare has been steadily increasing since 2014, when it landed at $397.

John Glenn Columbus International Airport’s airfare was cheaper than both Cincinnati’s and Dayton’s average airfare for the first quarter — coming in at about an average of $385. Indianapolis has the cheapest average airfare currently with $364.

Attracting travelers with low airfare is even more important now for Dayton, as the airport struggles with low passenger traffic in recent months.

Around 93,244 passengers flew out of the Dayton airport in May, more than 3,000 less than the year before during the same month. For the year, 405,659 travelers have flown from the Dayton airport compared to the 416,023 passengers who flew in the same time period last year.

» Dayton Airport director’s plan to lure passengers: Bigger planes, more flights

May was the last full month of service for Southwest Airlines at the Dayton airport, and 10,189 travelers flew with the air carrier. Southwest halted services in early June, in favor of adding services at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The problem isn’t happening just at the Dayton airport. Airlines are pulling out of small hubs in favor of large and mid-sized airports to lure in new travelers. Dayton is among 21 airports that Southwest pulled out of since 2010, according to Volaire Aviation Consulting.

Slaybaugh said the airport is working with its largest carriers — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — to bring larger aircraft to Dayton or add additional routes to new cities. The airport has also had discussions with carriers like JetBlue, Air Canada and Spirit Airlines.


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