Airline fares rise in April CPI

Airline fares advanced 1.1 percent in April, more than offsetting the 0.9 percent drop in the March figure according to the latest figures on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor.

Through March, the index was one of five that had shown net declines over the previous 12 months. The April increase changed that figure to a net increase of 0.4 percent, which is one of the more slowing increasing indexes, according to the BLS.

The calculations of airline fares include an allowance for checked bag fees but the BLS does not include other ancillary charges which continue to rise and represent a larger percentage of airlines' overall revenue.

The agency found a certain percentage of passengers checked bags. It applies that percentage to all  incoming quotes during sample rotation and then assigns the appropriate checked bag fee (assuming one bag, for either one-way or round-trip, based on the description of the quote). It also applies baggage specs to airlines that do not charge for bags so that if they start to charge in the future, the BLS could easily incorporate that price increase.

Airline fares matched the seasonally adjusted all items figure, which also rose 0.4 percent in April. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 1.1 before seasonal adjustment, the BLS said in its May 17 news release containing the data.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in April. The shelter index rose 0.3 percent, as did the index for medical care, and the indexes for motor vehicle insurance, recreation, and education increased as well. Several other component indexes increased slightly, including those for alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and personal care. In contrast, the indexes for household furnishings and operations, apparel, new vehicles, used cars and trucks, and communication all declined.

The all items index rose 1.1 percent for the 12 months ending April, a larger increase than the 0.9- percent increase for the 12 months ending March. The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.1 percent over the last 12 months, compared to a 2.2-percent rise for the 12 months ending March. The food index has risen 0.9 percent over the last 12 months, and the energy index has declined 8.9 percent, the BLS said in its statement.

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