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May 6, 2013

Report: flights from Tulsa among most expensive

TULSA — A report by a Denver-based airline consulting firm says commercial flights from Tulsa International Airport are among the most expensive in the nation on a mile-per-mile basis.

The report by Boyd Group International Inc. said flying from Tulsa’s airport is the sixth most expensive among the nation’s 100 largest airports, at a cost of 21.1 cents per mile. That trails only the 24.3 cents per mile cost at Dallas’ Love airport; 22.1 cents per mile at the Memphis, Tenn., airport; 22 cents at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky; 21.6 cents at Houston Intercontinental; and Cleveland’s 21.3 cents per mile.

Boyd Group president Michael Boyd told the Tulsa World that one reason the per mile cost for the Tulsa airport is high is because there are few non-stop flights. Stops at other airports drive up the cost of flying because of various airport fees, he said

Shorter flights with stops along the way mean higher costs, because it is expensive to land a plane, unload passengers and then get those passengers back on a plane headed for a new destination, Boyd said.

Tulsa leaders and aviation officials have been working to attract more airlines to Tulsa International and get existing carriers to add more non-stop flights.

“The airline is in control of the fare, and they set fares based on what the market will bear,” said Tulsa International spokeswoman Alexis Higgins. “For our market we have four airlines right now, and that probably has something to do with fares.”

Higgins said airport officials are actively recruiting more airlines as a means of increasing the number of carriers and flights in and out of Tulsa. That, she said, provides the best chance of landing lower fares for travelers.

Boyd said there is little Tulsa can do to lower fares, relative to the rest of the country, since it is so close to hubs in Dallas, Denver and St. Louis.

“You’ve got great air service now, and basically every hub that Tulsa can support it flies to,” Boyd said. “The discount carriers like Spirit Airlines, Jet Blue and Virgin American are unlikely to come there because they’re looking for bigger cities.”

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