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Airfares take historic dive

Average domestic airfares in the second quarter of 2009 fell to their lowest April-to-June level since 1998, dropping 13 percent from the second quarter of 2008 in the largest year-to-year decline on record, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports.

The 13 percent year-to-year drop exceeded the previous largest decline of 11.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2000 to the fourth quarter of 2001, which took place following the 9/11 attacks. The $301 average second-quarter fares were almost equal to the second quarter 1998 average fare. BTS air fare records reach back to 1995.

Second quarter average fares were down 3.8 percent from the first quarter of 2009, the largest first quarter to second quarter decline since 2001.

While airfares in the second quarter of 2009 fell to the same level as in the second quarter of 1998, overall prices measured by the inflation rate rose 32.3 percent during that period. In the 14 years from 1995, the first year of BTS records, airfares rose 1.5 percent, compared to a 41.4 percent inflation rate. From 2001, fares declined 8.3 percent, compared to a 21.2 percent inflation rate increase.

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