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Average airfares reach near-record levels

July 27, 2011 | 11:34 am

Airfareschart Average domestic airfares in the U.S. rose to $356 in the first three months of 2011, up 8.4% from the same period in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Wednesday.

The increase in average ticket prices in January, February and March raised airfares to within only a few dollars of the record high of $359, set in the summer of 2008, according to the bureau.

Airline industry experts attribute the rising prices to increasing demand from consumers and very little growth in capacity offered by airlines.

The average airfares mark the highest price on record when compared to the first three months of any year since the Bureau of Transportation Statistics began keeping track of such numbers in 1995.

The highest average fares in the nation, $477, were for flights starting at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport; the lowest fares, $172, were from Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, according to the bureau.

-- Hugo Martin

Chart: The average airfare since 1995. Source: U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.