North Carolina residents who usually fly from Charlotte, Greensboro or Wilmington may want to consider the Triangle next time.
Last year, RDU had the cheapest average domestic fare – coming in at just under $355 – among the state’s largest commercial airports, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Asheville Regional Airport ranked second among North Carolina airports with an average domestic fare of about $370. Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport averaged $438, with Wilmington International Airport at just under $445 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport at $416.
Kristie VanAuken, RDU’s vice president of communications and community affairs, said the airport’s diverse portfolio of carriers creates more competition and encourages lower fares than hub airports such as Charlotte Douglas International Airport, an American Airlines hub. RDU was an American Airlines hub until 1996.
“Typically what you find in a hub is higher fares and less diversity of choices when it comes to carriers,” she said.
Hubs also offer a far larger number of nonstop flights, which are often more expensive.
RDU has nine carriers from larger airlines, including American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, budget carriers Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airlines, and low-cost carriers Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air. Virgin America will be the 10th carrier when it kicks off flights to San Francisco in October.
VanAuken said she expects that once Virgin America starts new flights to San Francisco, airfares across the board to that destination will go down.
But Charlotte’s airport serves more than 150 destinations with nonstop flights, which some travelers are willing to pay for. RDU serves 48 destinations with nonstop flights.
While RDU tops other North Carolina airports in terms of average domestic fare, it is on middle ground when compared to other airports of its size nationwide. The average domestic airfare across the nation was $347.
Airports such as Miami International Airport, Indianapolis International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport see about the same number of passengers fly from their gates but at lower average fares. But RDU does have lower average fares than Nashville International Airport, Sacramento International Airport, John Glenn Columbus International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon