US airfares hit lowest average since 2010

The federal government revealed this week that U.S. airfares reached a six-year low during the first quarter of 2016.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the average price of a domestic plane ticket was $361 during the first three months of this year. The figure represents a noteworthy 7.8 percent decline from the same period in 2015 ($392) and the lowest average ticket price since 2010.

While excellent news for air travelers, the new low shouldn't come as all that much of a surprise given the recent trend. After all, the BTS points out that average airfares have declined for five straight quarters since reaching an inflation-adjusted recent high of $398 during the fourth quarter of 2014.

The BTS also broke down the average first quarter 2016 fares by airport group based on the number of originating domestic passengers.

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Airports with fewer than 100,000 originating domestic passengers saw the highest average ticket price at $376, while airports with 1 to 1.5 million originating domestic passengers — which account for 20 percent of passengers — recorded the lowest average fares at $328.

Meanwhile, airports with 2 million or more originating domestic passengers saw average fares $10 below the nationwide first quarter 2016 average at $351.

It's worth noting that the BTS data comes on the heels of announcements made by major U.S. carriers United Airlines and Delta Air Lines that they intend to slow plans to increase capacity in an effort to drive up passenger revenue.