Airline Deregulation:

Changes in Airfares and Service at Four South Carolina Communities

T-RCED-99-117: Published: Mar 12, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the changes in airfares and service quality since deregulation, focusing on the: (1) changes in airfares and service quality at airports serving Charleston and other communities in South Carolina; and (2) differences in airfares charged to business and leisure passengers travelling to and from Charleston.

GAO noted that: (1) most communities in the United States have benefited from a decrease in average airfares since 1990; (2) airfares for passengers travelling to and from the four South Carolina airports that GAO reviewed--Charleston, Columbia, Greenville-Spartanburg, and Myrtle Beach--also declined from 1990 through 1998; (3) since 1994, however, the average airfares for Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville-Spartanburg have increased; (4) the average airfares to and from these communities are higher than those for the nation as a whole or for comparably sized communities; (5) since deregulation, the overall quality of air service, as measured by various quantitative and qualitative factors has increased at Myrtle Beach and Greenville-Spartanburg; (6) however, the overall quality of air service has decreased at Charleston and Columbia; and (7) airfares charged to business passengers using Charleston's airport are much higher than those charged to leisure passengers for flights of all lengths, and business fares consistently increased from the second quarter of 1992 through the second quarter of 1998.

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