It’s not just the Canadians who are saving money by flying out of Bellingham International Airport.
The average price for a domestic airline ticket at the Bellingham airport was $192 in the second quarter, the fourth lowest in the country, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The lowest average fare was $111 in Sanford, Fla., while the highest was in Cincinnati, at $523.
Bellingham’s average airline ticket price is down 10.1 percent compared to a year ago, the second biggest drop in the U.S. Since 2000 the average ticket in Bellingham has dropped from $478 (using 2014 dollars) to $192. That’s a decrease of 59.8 percent, the largest percentage drop in the nation.
Back in 2000, Bellingham had flights to Seattle through United Express and Horizon Air. In a few months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, only Horizon was offering flights to Seattle. Increased airline competition and better technology are the big factors in the decrease in airplane ticket prices out of Bellingham, said Dan Zenk, aviation director for the Port of Bellingham.
Since 2000, the average fare at all airports has dropped 15.6 percent, according to the report. A few airports have seen airline tickets rise during that 14-year period, including Dallas Love Field Airport (up 26.1 percent) and Reno, Nev. (up 19.5 percent).
While Bellingham airport ranks high when it comes to low ticket prices, it has been dealing with a 12-month slide in the number of people using the airport. In September, only 37,901 travelers flew out of Bellingham, the lowest monthly total since February 2011.
The main reason for fewer passengers in 2014 is the decline in flights out of the airport, Zenk said. Allegiant Airlines discontinued direct flights between Bellingham and Hawaii in April.
Additional seats could be on the way for current flights out of Bellingham. Zenk said Alaska Airlines is planning to use more of its bigger Boeing 737-800 planes on some of its flights starting next month.
In the coming months Allegiant Air is expected to replace some of its MD-80s with its quieter Airbus aircraft.
Zenk believes the additional seats will lead to more travelers using the airport, noting that the current flights have been relatively full. He also expects the airport to be a good option for Canadian travelers, who at times have made up most of the overall market.
“I think we are still very attractive to Canadian travelers, despite the recent fluctuations in the Canadian dollar,” Zenk said.