Study: Dane County Regional Airport No. 1 in highest fares

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Madison ranks No. 1 in highest airfare in the nation among the top 100 airports with highest passenger traffic, according to the Department of Transportation.

In the last quarter of 2014, Madison averaged $504.75 per fare. Madison bumped Cincinnati off the top of the list.

“I think there are a lot of factors. You know geography is a big factor for us. We’re sandwiched right between two large, much larger airports. Chicago is not very far away and Milwaukee is even closer. Both have a lot larger footprint, a lot larger seats available and a lot larger carrier base and that can be a challenge for us,” said Brent McHenry, director of marketing for Dane County Regional Airport.

Low cost carriers may also be a factor. General Mitchell International Airport is served by both Southwest and Frontier airlines, while Dane County Regional Airport has Frontier.

“We’re continually working with our airline partners, both ones we have as well as the ones that we’re hoping to get. We meet almost quarterly with all the airlines to try to get new service in Madison,” McHenry said.

According to CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, the reason for Madison’s high airfares comes down to supply and demand.

“Why do people go to Madison? Because they are on vacation or because they need to be there. It is the state capital, so you have people who have to be there. It is EPIC, so there’s your business travel and you’ve got everybody going to school there. They’ve got to show up at class. So 90 percent of your traffic is must-travel. Therefor laws of supply and demand weight right in. Why wouldn’t it be higher?” Greenberg said.

Newark, New Jersey, ranked second with $488.78, and Cincinnati dropped to third at $484.98.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, Dane County Regional Airport had an average fare of $482.71.

The DOT showed data dating back to 2000. Fares have dropped since then, when the average ticket price was $540.37.

The survey ranked the top 100 airports in the nation. Sanford, Florida, came in last with an average fare of $98.68.

The average domestic fare price was $392.66 in the fourth quarter of 2014.