Domestic airfares jumped 8.3% in 2011, reaching the highest level on record and are on pace to continue to rise, according to federal data released Monday.
The average airfare last year was $364, compared with $336 in 2010, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The previous record high was set in 2008, when the average fare peaked at $346.
Such fares are expected to rise even more this year. Already, the nation’s largest airlines have approved three fare hikes since the beginning of the year. Airline industry representatives say the hikes are needed to compensate for a 28% spike in fuel costs in 2011, compared with the previous year.
Adjusting for inflation in 1995 dollars, fares in 2011 averaged $247, up nearly 5% from 2010 but down 18% from the inflation-adjusted high of $300 in 2000, the agency said.
The fares in the federal report do not include fees collected by airlines to check bags, upgrade to roomier seats, change reservations or buy on-board food, drinks or Internet service.
The nation’s highest airfares last year were from flights in and out of Cincinnati, where domestic fares averaged $502. The lowest average fares were from Atlantic City, where fares averaged $189, according to the federal agency.