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In a letter to The News Herald that was published Feb. 25 (“New airport has yet to land lower airfares”, Mr. Bruce Kennedy complained that the new airport has not resulted in lower airfares.
To make his case he compared the purchase of two Southwest Airlines’ tickets to San Antonio departing on June 1 and returning on June 6. The total price for the two round-trip tickets was $587.60, or $293.80 per person.
He compared this with Delta Air Lines fares for the same dates and found their fares to be $3 lower. His conclusion is that nothing has changed and Panama City fares remain high even with the new Southwest service.
That is incorrect.
The U.S. Department of Transportation collects data on actual air fares sold, with the latest information available being the 12-month period ending in September 2009. Based on that information, the average round-trip airfare sold from Panama City to San Antonio during that 12-month period was $694 per person. That cost does not include taxes and other fees that were included in Mr. Kennedy’s fare quote. Therefore the comparison is $1,388 (plus taxes and fees) for two tickets in 2009 versus $587 (including taxes and fees) with the new Southwest fares.
The fact that Delta is matching the Southwest fares is evidence that the competition provided by Southwest is generating significantly lower air fares.
Mr. Kennedy was also critical of Southwest’s level of customer service referring to seat assignments and beverage services. In response I would note that Southwest has routinely been ranked by various consumer and industry organizations as No. 1 in the airline industry in customer service.
The new airport is about many things that will provide economic benefits to our community. This includes improved airline service at lower cost to the traveling public.
Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport