Passenger fares for flights to and from the United States recently experienced a strong recovery after recording large decreases during the recent global recession. For the United States, the recent recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. After a decade of steady increases, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Import and Export Air Passenger Fares Indexes declined sharply between the recession years 2008 and 2009. Following the recession, the industry has shown signs of recovery, with ticket prices increasing in the past 2 years. An analysis of the BLS international airfare indexes helps to shed some light on the factors that led to this rebound.
BLS publishes price indexes that track general trends in international air travel to and from the United States. The BLS Import Air Passenger Fares Index tracks changes in the fares paid to foreign air carriers by U.S. residents, and the Export Air Passenger Fares Index tracks changes in the fares paid to U.S. carriers by foreign residents. These indexes were first published on a quarterly basis in the late 1980s; since March 2001, BLS has published the air passenger fares indexes on a monthly basis. The indexes also track airfares by region, such as Europe, Latin America, and Asia.