Knoxville's McGhee Tyson third in U.S. for fastest decreasing airfares
A federal study found McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, TN ranks third in the nation for decreasing airfares.
The rankings are in the most-recent study on average airfares by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
The study found that while average domestic airfares increased 6.2% from reported 2010 third quarter levels, average airfares at McGhee Tyson Airport decreased by 3%.
"McGhee Tyson Airport is seeing dramatic airfare reductions due to the arrival of Frontier Airlines and their low fares to Denver and numerous cities in the west," said Howard Vogel, chairman of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority's Board of Commissioners.
Frontier Airlines began service at McGhee Tyson in summer 2011 and recently shifted Denver flight times to help Knoxville business travelers.
"The BTS study only confirms what we have known all along – that the growth of competition provided by low-fare carriers including Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air at McGhee Tyson Airport is directly responsible for the success we have had in lowering the average cost of air travel for East Tennesseans," Vogel added.
Allegiant Air began service at McGhee Tyson in 2006.
The airport authority says history has shown that if low-fare carriers aren't supported, they will leave the market. "If that happens, our airfares will quickly rise," Vogel said.
AirTran Airways has stopped service to McGhee Tyson twice. It first began service in 1994, but stopped flying to Knoxville in 2000. Service was resumed in June 2009, followed by an announcement two years later it would stop for a second time.
Vision Airlines, another low-cost carrier, suspended service to Knoxville in 2011.