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Average air fares 1 

The airline industry continued to see increased demand for air travel in 2013 for the fourth consecutive year. During this period, the average air fare (domestic and international, on a coupon origin-destination basis) paid by passengers was $249.00, up 0.2% from $248.60 in 2012. The level reached in 2013 was mainly a result of year-over-year increases in the second and third quarters.

The average domestic air fare paid by passengers was $190.80 in 2013, down 0.7% from $192.20 in 2012. This ended the upward trend observed between 2010 and 2012.

The average international air fare was $322.60 in 2013, up 0.3% from $321.50 in 2012.

As can be seen in Chart 1 below, the average domestic air fare in 2013 returned to the same level reached in 2011. One factor that may explain the situation is the aggressive and competitive nature of the airline industry—substantial price competition from Canadian low-cost carriers translated into limited ability for the major airlines to increase fares. Furthermore, the growth and competitiveness of Internet distribution channels have pushed air carriers to more aggressively price their products to cost-conscious travellers.

In the international sector, the average air fare rose for the first time since 2010, though it remained below the level reached in 2009. Although there was increased and intense competition amongst Canadian and foreign carriers in international markets, increased traffic and the favourable impact of a weakened Canadian dollar in most European markets are among the factors that may have contributed to the increase in the international fares.

Average domestic air fares at the city level

In 2013, average domestic air fares decreased across 8 of the 10 selected Canadian cities of enplanement compared to 2012. During this period, year-over-year decreases ranged from 0.1% in Calgary and Halifax to 7.1% in Ottawa. Toronto remained the city with the highest average domestic air fare ($214.40), followed by Vancouver ($204.40) and Winnipeg ($201.30), while Ottawa posted the lowest average domestic air fare ($178.60). Higher fares in Toronto can be partly explained by the fact that more long-haul flights—which are more expensive—leave from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

As shown in Chart 2 below, Toronto was the only selected eastern Canadian city of enplanement to register an average domestic air fare above the national level ($190.80) in 2013. During the same period, Vancouver and Winnipeg were the only selected western Canadian cities of enplanement to register an average fare above the national level.

For historical annual data at the city level, please refer to the CANSIM table 401-0004.

The air fare index is no longer included in this publication as of reference year 2012. However, this data series can be found in CANSIM table 329-0078.

Notes

The estimates are derived from a sample of flight coupons collected as part of the Fare Basis Survey. The estimates relate to the operations of major Canadian air carriers. For 2013, the air carriers included are the Canadian Level I carriers (Air Canada (including Air Canada rouge beginning in July 2013), Jazz, Air Canada’s Canadian regional code-share partners, Air Transat and WestJet).

For purposes of statistical tabulations, fare codes reported by the air carriers are grouped by general fare type. These fare types are defined as follows:

  1. First class: The transportation of a passenger or passengers for whom premium-quality services (e.g. larger seats, complimentary bar) are provided.
  2. Business class: A fare level which is less expensive than first class and more expensive than the basic fare level. It includes different amenities (e.g. larger seats, advanced seat assignment).
  3. Economy: A basic fare level which is less expensive than first class but does not include the amenities (e.g. larger seats, complimentary bar) of the first class fare.
  4. Discount: A reduced fare usually subject to one or more travel restrictions, the price of which is usually calculated as a percentage reduction from the normal full fare. It includes various discount fares such as charter class, seat sales, advance purchase excursion and group.
  5. Other: Represents industry and agency discount fares, military as well as unknown fare codes.

The average fare is obtained by dividing the carriers' revenue by the passenger volume, as measured by coupon origin and destination.

The average domestic air fares are the average for all coupons originating in that city, for all domestic destinations. The level of average fares can be affected by changes in travel patterns, as well as prices.

Average air fares are base fares and they do not include the Goods and Services Tax, air transportation taxes or user fees such as airport fees or fuel surcharges.

Additional information on Fare Basis statistics can be obtained directly from the Aviation Statistics Centre. Tables are available in print form or in electronic format. For further information, please contact the Aviation Statistics Centre (telephone: 1-866-500-8400; Internet: aviationstatistics@statcan.gc.ca).

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