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New York City has some of the nation's highest airfares, but the fourth quarter 2014 numbers show the rise of other business hubs like Houston was reflected in pricey ticket costs.

New York City area airports had the most expensive average round-trip airfares during the 2014 holiday season but other rising business hubs such as Houston weren’t far behind.

The fourth quarter of 2014, led by Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holiday travel, was the first time since before the Recession the three New York airports were the most expensive during a fourth quarter, based on data released this week from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Fares are based on the total ticket value, which consists of the price charged by airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity, such as offline and  online travel agencies, at the time of purchase.

The data show the average domestic round-trip airfare at New York City airports was $440.66, only up 0.8% year-over-year but 12% higher than the overall national average for the quarter ($392.66).

This is 2% higher than the national average of $385 in fourth quarter 2013 and during that quarter Houston’s Hobby and George Bush Intercontinental Airports were the most expensive ($440.18). Houston has had the highest domestic fares during the fourth quarter since 2011 and the city’s growth as a business hub probably factors into its rising airfares.

Looking at individual airport average ticket prices for the quarter only makes Houston’s case stronger. The city’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport was one of the most expensive major airports in the country ($468.65), only behind Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport ($484.98) and Newark’s Liberty International Airport (the most expensive: $488.78).

The other two New York City airports were still some of the most expensive when considered separately- JFK International Airport’s average domestic fare was $447.32 and LaGuardia Airports’s was $402.16. Newark Airport had the highest average fares in the fourth quarter at $488.78, but that represented a 2.7% decline compared with the fourth quarter of 2013.

Interestingly, one-way trips accounted for 31% of fares purchased during the fourth quarter of 2014. U.S. passenger airlines also collected 71.2% of their total revenue for last year from passenger fares during the third quarter of 2014, the latest period for which revenue data are available.

The chart below lists the top 10 U.S. airports with the highest average airfares during the fourth quarter 2014 and compares them to fourth quarter 2013.

Top 10 Major U.S. Airports With Most Expensive Domestic Round-Trip Airfares For Fourth Quarter 2014

Rank Airport Avg. Domestic Round-Trip Airfare % Change  2014
1 Newark Liberty International Airport $488.78 -2.70%
2 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport $484.98 -5.70%
3 Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport $468.65 -6.50%
4 Washington Dulles International Airport $462.39 -9.20%
5 San Francisco International Airport $455.29 4.20%
6 New York JFK International Airport $447.32 2.20%
7 Memphis, Tennessee Airport $437.39 -0.10%
8 Los Angeles International Airport $434.92 4.00%
9 Philadelphia International Airport $434.33 4.80%
10 Minneapolis–Saint Paul Airport $433.04 3.60%

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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