The group noted that airlines have used their profits to buy new jets and update airport facilities. There was a time — before deregulation in 1978 — when fliers had even fewer choices and paid higher fares than they do now. After 9/11 and the recession that hit immediately afterward, major airlines were in financial shambles.American Airlines CEO Doug Parker rejected the notion that consolidation has hurt travelers. Several restructured through bankruptcy, and a wave of deals starting in 2008 led to the combinations of Delta and Northwest, United and Continental, Southwest and Air Tran, and American and US Airways. Over the past decade, mega-mergers reduced nine large U. airlines to four — American, United, Delta and Southwest — with the result that travelers are increasingly finding their home airport dominated by just one or two players. airline industry has markedly reduced competition at many of the nation's major airports, and passengers appear to be paying the price in higher fares and fees, an Associated Press analysis has found.
Today, just four airlines fly there and prices are almost 10 percent above average. In 2005, US Airways controlled nearly 66 percent of the seats in Philadelphia.
Seattle-based Alaska has responded by adding service.
The average fare at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was 7 in the third quarter of 2014, below the national average.
To be sure, other factors have contributed to higher fares, among them a stronger economy, longer average flight distances and, for most of the past few years, some of the highest fuel prices in history.
However, analysts believe consolidation freed airlines to charge more.