The May 31 story, "Some Worry That Cut-Rate Air Fares in State Won't Last," failed to include the commercial airline point of view. The story drew an unfair and misleading picture of California airline operations, relying on an unrealistic view of the post-deregulation period and "sour grapes" with respect to legislative initiatives.
On behalf of the Air Transport Assn., the trade association whose 21 members provide virtually all of the scheduled passenger service in California, it is time to set the record straight:
- The average round-trip air fare between Los Angeles and Sacramento is not $375 as stated in the article. That is the unrestricted full coach class fare. A more likely average would be in the range of $200, reflecting the fact that about 80% of the passengers on that route get a discount. Travelers have saved billions of dollars since the industry was deregulated in 1978.
- Historically, fares charged on flights within California have lagged behind the rest of the country, creating an unrealistic expectation on the part of some consumers. Fare levels on California intrastate flights are currently comparable to similar flight segments in other parts of the country. Airlines must price their product more equitably if they are to finance new equipment.