Average airfares to Denver International Airport (DEN) decreased 33.5 percent in the past decade, the second-largest decrease in the nation, according to a U.S. Bureau of Transportation Report released on Nov. 1, 2010.

The report showed that in the second quarter of 2010, the average cost of a domestic itinerary from DEN was $294, $47 less than the national average and 33.5 percent less than the $442 average from Denver in the second quarter of 2000. Only White Plains, N.Y., showed a larger decrease in airfares. Of the top 50 airports in the U.S., Denver recorded the largest decrease of any airport.

The huge drop in average airfares is attributed to DEN being a major hub for United and Frontier and the fifth-largest station for Southwest. “Denver is just 340 miles from the exact geographic center of the continental United States – closer to the center of the country than any other city our size,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “That central location, Denver and Colorado’s draw as world-class destinations and our airport – the newest and most modern air center in the country – have made Denver a natural hub for air travel.” DEN ranks as the fifth-busiest airport in North America and 10th busiest in the world with more than 1,600 daily flights, including non-stops to more than 160 worldwide destinations.

Being a hub airport, however, does not necessarily guarantee lower airfares. Dallas (Love Field) saw a 47 percent increase in average airfares in the past decade and Houston (Hobby) saw a 31.9 percent increase, according to the report.

“We are fortunate that two of our largest carriers, Southwest and Frontier, are known for being low cost, price-sensitive airlines, and that now that United and Continental have merged, we also are a hub for the world’s largest airline ” Scharf said.

Scharf noted that the central location and low airfares make Denver ideal for short corporate meetings. “We are one of the few cities in the nation where it is possible to fly to Denver, conduct a meeting, and fly home in the same day. Because of our abundance of nonstop flights, if you have delegates coming from all over the nation, you can plan a two-day conference in Denver and build in more actual meeting time than you could do in three days in most other cities,” Scharf said.

Nationally, airfares have peaked and fallen over the past decade. Ironically, the average fare today of $340.72 is almost exactly the same as it was 10 years ago: $340.23. Over the same period, Denver’s airfares have dropped 33.5 percent, leaving Denver’s average fare at $294, $47 less than the national average and the 82nd least expensive average airfare in the nation.

New Rail Connection from DEN to Downtown
Ground was recently broken on a new rail link that will connect Downtown Denver’s Union Station to Denver International Airport by 2015. The 23-mile rail link is part of 122-miles of rail that Denver is adding, the largest light rail initiative in American history. Other new routes include a line that will connect Downtown Denver to Golden and the west, opening in 2013.

Largest Decreases in Airfare, 2Q 2000 to 2Q 2010:

White Plains, N.Y. -47.2 percent
Denver -33.5 percent
Richmond, Va. -27.9 percent
Milwaukee -27.7 percent
Long Beach, Calif. -26.2 percent