If you thought the arrival of Southwest Airlines in Atlanta would bring lower fares for everyone, you may be disappointed with the initial figures.
In fact, the average domestic air fare in Atlanta hit a record high of $392.29 in the first quarter of 2012, up 8.9 percent year-over-year, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics figures, not adjusted for inflation.
The local average was higher than the national average domestic fare of $372.75, which was up 4.8 percent year-over-year and was also a record.
For Atlanta, it was the second straight quarter of record fares.
Dallas-based Southwest closed its acquisition of AirTran more than a year ago and has been controlling AirTran fares since well before beginning flights into Atlanta Feb. 12.
Travelers accustomed to paying baggage fees may still benefit from Southwest's free checked baggage policy. And Southwest has a relatively small presence at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport so far.
But Southwest, like other airlines, has long been trying to increase fares and revenue -- even while working to maintain a low-fare image.
Spokesman Brad Hawkins said Southwest continues to "deal with an era of volatile fuel prices."
He said the main effect Southwest has had so far in lowering fares in Atlanta is bringing down pricey last-minute fares, often paid by business travelers.
"We aim to be as competitive as possible, given all factors," he said.
Meanwhile, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines also has been pushing for more revenue.
"We will remain diligent in our efforts to have our fares fully reflect our costs," Delta chief executive Richard Anderson said in a conference call this week on financial results.
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