The cost of a hub airport

What is the cost of having a hub airport? About $57 a ticket in Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to data released today by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. MSP is one of the most expensive places from which to fly. It’s 11th among the 100 major cities — and it’s #1 as the most expensive hub for Delta, the local behemoth.

The average domestic fare here is $413.21, not including all the nickel-and-diming included in airline tickets. Houston is the most expensive ($476.60). The average fare in the country (domestic) is $356.

While the fares are pretty high at MSP, they haven’t changed that much over the last year, when compared to other cities. MSP ranks 49th on the list of airfare changes; fares are up about 11 percent from a year ago.

Of the top 100 airports in the country, Madison Wisconsin had the highest increase in fares — a 17.5 percent increase in the first quarter of 2011 over the same period a year ago.

The average airline fares in the country in the first quarter, by the way, are the highest they’ve been since 1995.

  • matt

    Going to Orlando in October to see Uncle Mickey…saving a ton by driving to Des Moines and flying out of there instead of MSP (enough to cover lodging and a day inside the Magic Kingdom…for 8). Can’t believe in the era of a mobile society and travel websites that people, excepting business travelers, still continue to use that airport.

  • Bismuth

    Matt – the more people you travel with, the more likely you are to save money by shopping around at different airports. Rental cars, hotels, etc. can be shared by many people, but a plane ticket cannot.

    Anyway, I’ve known about the expensiveness of MSP for a while now. I live on the east coast, but travel back to the midwest around two times a year to visit family. Flying into MSP has almost always been more expensive than flying to places like Des Moines, Milwaukee, Chicago, even Kansas City. But for just me and my wife, we don’t save enough to pay for a rental car or to justify having someone make a 6+ hour round trip to pick us up.

  • Bismuth

    Another interesting comparison would be to look at price vs. the size of the city and the number of airlines which make that city a hub. A big city that is not a major hub (Boston, Kansas City) will see a lot more competition among the different airlines. Meanwhile a smaller non-hub city (Wichita, Fargo) will not generate as many fares, thus the price per ticket will increase. A place like Chicago is interesting, as multiple airlines make it a hub. I’ve found that flying to Chicago is almost always quite inexpensive.