Local News

Added Competition At RDU May Bring Lower Fares

Posted June 16, 2004

— Independence Air

adds to the growing fleet of choices and destinations for travelers at Raleigh-Durham International. The new addition may lead to lower fares.

"We have walk-up fares as low as $49 to $79," said Kristina Richardson, of Independence Air.

Two other low-fare airlines --

AirTran

and

Southwest

-- have popped up on RDU International's radar screen in the last five years, bringing the total number of airlines flying in and out of the Triangle to 20. Officials said the added competition means good news for passengers.

The year after Southwest's arrival, the average round-trip ticket price at RDU dropped by $140. Even this summer, Southwest and US Airways are in a price war over flights from RDU to Philadelphia. When Southwest offered the roundtrip for $76, US Airways dropped its price to $66.

"[It's] more options of where to fly and better fares," said Mindy Hamlin, spokeswoman for RDU International.

The Southwest effect also draws more people to the airport. RDU had a growth spurt of 1 million passengers the first year Southwest started offering flights at RDU, despite the fall of the airport's former No. 1 carrier, Midway Airlines.

The low-fare fliers have become increasingly popular. Right now, 25 percent of air travelers use discount airlines. That number is expected to increase to 40 percent over the next decade.

Independence Air is starting with nine daily flights to Washington. Those flights will increase to 14 next month. From its Washington-Dulles hub, passengers will be able to get connecting flights to 25 different cities, including Atlanta and New York City.

Right now, the airline only flies on the East Coast, but it will be heading west by the end of the year. The only way to currently book a ticket with Independence Air is through its

Web site

.

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