Airfares up nationwide; Discount airlines in Charleston keeping rates stable

Airfares up nationwide; Discount airlines in Charleston keeping rates stable

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The cost to fly is soaring. Last month, average prices across the country jumped more than they have in 15 years.

"The airlines may be preparing for a higher fuel expense in the coming months," said AAA general manger Lori Jo Simmons.

Simmons says there are two big factors driving the cost of flights.

"The cost of fuel and their labor," said Simmons.

Simmons says it's a balancing act between what's going on around the world.

"So when there's something such as the unrest in Iraq, then people start to speculate that oil prices will be increasing which then incurs our gasoline and fuel costs," said Simmons.

Last month, ticket prices went up by nearly six percent nationwide according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Over the last few years, the average price of a domestic roundtrip flight out of Charleston has actually gone down.

Simmons said, "We are very fortunate now to have JetBlue and Southwest in our market which helps keep the cost from rising somewhat. They play a competitive game, which is in our benefit."

A domestic roundtrip ticket from here is about $396.

That's almost a $50 drop from 2010 to 2013.

Still, Charleston International Airport is ranked 76th among the top 100 most expensive airports in the country, according to U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Greenville/Spartanburg airport also makes the list at 86th.

Simmons says discount airlines help keep prices in check.

"It really does cause more competitive pricing," said Simmons.

Simmons says even airports with stable prices may not be able to avoid an increase, all thanks to Mother Nature.

"A very harsh winter, which resulted in many cancelled flights and people deciding not to travel due the expecting cancellations and delays that they might incur during severe weather," said Simmons.

Thursday the JetBlue airline will start offering direct flights from Charleston to Washington DC.

There will be a celebration Thursday afternoon at the airport. The airline already has flights to Boston and New York City.

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