CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The average price to fly out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport has dropped 20 percent in the last 15 years.
Among the 100 busiest airports in the country, Ford Airport is now the 20th most expensive to fly out of, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That’s an improvement from 2009, when Ford Airport was the second most expensive.
And 2014 fourth-quarter figures recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that the average cost of a ticket on a domestic airline flying out of Ford Airport was down 0.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013.
For air travelers like Christina Howard, the cheapest fare usually wins out.
“Price is a big thing because sometimes I don’t travel alone, sometimes I bring my child. And if it’s cheaper, sometimes I can get two tickets for the price of one, so that works out good,” Howard said.
She lives in Dallas but is from West Michigan and travels here often. She hasn’t always been able to fly directly into Ford Airport because the cost was too high.
“Sometimes it’s cheaper to just fly into another city and drive,” she said. “It’s cheaper even with renting a car. Renting a car and a cheap flight as opposed to a direct flight for double the cost — no, I’ll drive.”
When comparing Grand Rapids to Detroit and Chicago airports, current domestic ticket prices aren’t very different. In Grand Rapids, the average fare for a domestic flight in the fourth quarter was $434.51. It was $430.53 in Detroit, just $4 more than Grand Rapids. In Chicago, the figure was $405.14, a $29 difference from Grand Rapids.
“It’s been a lot cheaper,” Howard said.
Ticket prices at Ford Airport have fallen from an average of $533 in 2000 to $434 last year. That’s a drop of nearly 20 percent.
It has been nearly two years since Southwest Airlines started flying planes out of Ford Airport. History shows once Southwest comes to town, fares drop.
And not only are fares dropping, but more people are also flying though Ford. March 2014 was the busiest month in the airport’s history, with 231,138 passengers. That beat out the previous record of 221,356 passengers in July 2011.
“Our record-breaking numbers are a direct reflection of airline investments in West Michigan, the renewed commitment of area business and leisure travelers to use the Ford as their primary airport, along with our hard-working staff to ensure the best customer service experience at our airport,” Ford Airport Executive Director Brian Ryks said in a previous press release. “We’re excited to see airlines invest and expand opportunities in our market, and we’re confident that even more growth will follow in the coming months and years.”
The first quarter of 2015 was the busiest first quarter in the airport’s history, serving 600,336 passengers between Jan. 1 and the end of March. The previous record was in 2005 when 546,505 passengers flew through the Ford.