Average Atlanta air fares at lowest level since 2010

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

The average air fares in Atlanta and nationally are at their lowest levels since 2010, according to the latest federal data.

The average Atlanta air fare in the third quarter of 2016 was $344.71, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That's down nearly 9.7 percent from $381.72 a year earlier.

The last time average Atlanta air fares were that low was in the fourth quarter of 2010, when the average air fare was $318.28.

An increase in competition from low-cost carriers, along with low fuel costs, has helped travelers to get good deals on air fares in Atlanta and across the country.

In fact, Atlanta's air fares mirror a drop nationally. The average air fare nationally was $343.98 in the third quarter, down from $371.72 a year ago, and also at the lowest level since 2010.

On an inflation-adjusted basis, third-quarter 2016 fares are at their lowest level since 2009.

Lower fares are great for consumers.

But airlines have been wringing their hands over the decline in their unit revenue over the past couple of years -- and are intent on pushing fares back up again.

Delta Air Lines has pointed to lower fares paid by normally high-spending business travelers as the biggest reason for its decline in unit revenue.

Atlanta-based Delta has cut jobs, seen profits decline slightly and worked to develop more ways to up-sell customers to higher fares to try to boost its unit revenue.

Average fares include taxes, but do not include baggage fees. are based on domestic fares for roundtrips, unless the customer does not buy a return flight. One-way fares accounted for 38 percent of the fares calculated in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Fees have added additional revenue to airlines in addition to fares. U.S. airlines collected 74.7 percent of their total revenue from air fares, down from 87.6 percent in 1995, according to federal data.

Want to know more about what's driving air fares in Atlanta? Check out these AJC stories:

Delta: 'Up-sell' fare strategy working well

“Ultra-low cost carriers” bring low air fares, competition to Atlanta

Delta sees ‘test’ for business model in 2017

Discount airlines see an opening in Atlanta

Delta: Fat profits but thinning fares