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Vacation airfares: New Yorkers will pay more for U.S. destinations, less for Europe

Trips to Europe this summer are expected to

Trips to Europe this summer are expected to be more than 8 percent less expensive, a new analysis shows. Could make looking at the 315-foot-high clock tower with Big Ben in London all the sweeter. This photo is from Sept. 12, 2012. Credit: AP

New Yorkers planning air travel to vacation spots this summer will find fares to domestic points up slightly on average from last year out of Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

But trips to Europe will be more than 8 percent cheaper, a new analysis shows.

Based on tickets already purchased for travel between Memorial Day and Labor Day, round-trip fares to the top 30 most popular U.S. destinations from Kennedy and LaGuardia airports will average $417.98 or 1.7 percent higher than the same period last year, according to an analysis done for Newsday by Airlines Reporting Corp. of Arlington, Virginia, which processes ticket transactions for airlines and thousands of travel agencies.

Round-trip fares to Europe out of Kennedy Airport will average $1,404.19, according to Airlines Reporting.

The figures include taxes and fees paid in advance of arrival at the airport. Average fares out of Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma weren't available.

Chuck Thackston of Airlines Reporting attributed the small increase in domestic fares to airlines' addition of seat capacity. "Airlines are adding more seats and, to make sure they can get passengers in those seats, average fares are leveling out domestically," he said.

The seats are being added via additional flights, larger aircraft and the addition of more seats in existing planes, he said. New planes include the world's largest jet, the Airbus A380, which typically seats 460 to 480 people in a three-class configuration.

Internationally, it's the same picture except that the capacity increase this summer to Europe is higher -- about 6 percent from all U.S. cities, including New York, Thackston said. "A number of airlines are adding seats into that trans-Atlantic market -- not just U.S. carriers, but also European and Middle Eastern airlines," he said.

Longtime airline industry consultant Robert Mann of Port Washington said much of the added capacity is coming from discount foreign carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and Iceland's WOW Air.

Meanwhile, both men said, weak economies in many European nations, combined with a decline of about 20 percent in the value of the euro against the dollar since last year, are discouraging some Europeans from traveling here this summer.

Nationally, Airlines Reporting said Monday that the average round-trip domestic ticket, including taxes, will be $454, down less than 1 percent from last summer. Vacationers to Europe from all U.S. airports with international service will see a 3 percent decline, to $1,619, about $50 less than last summer.

Thackston's company didn't analyze the impact on fares, if any, of lower fuel prices, which will provide airlines with billions of dollars in cost savings this year.

Mann does not see those savings translating into lower fares because of the supply-demand balance of available seats versus customers.

He thinks, however, that this year's lower gasoline prices are providing Americans with more discretionary income for frills like air travel. But cheaper gas also might encourage some Americans to drive rather than fly, he said. "I think we'll see that on shorter haul trips and maybe even on medium haul trips" up to about 600 miles.

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