Huntsville, Ala., has highest fares, topping Cincinnati

Passengers flying from Huntsville, Ala., pay the highest airfares in the USA, according to the Department of Transportation. Its average fare in the first quarter was $505, and it was the only domestic airport to top the $500 mark.

For the first time in years, Cincinnati is no longer the most expensive airport but remains in second place with an average fare of $446. It registered the biggest year-to-year average fare decrease among all airports, down 16.8%.

Grand Rapids, Mich. ($418); Savannah, Ga. ($405); and Des Moines ($403) round out the top five most expensive airports.

Not surprisingly, airports served by low-cost carriers generally had the lowest fares. The five least expensive were: Long Beach ($207); Oakland ($227); Burbank, Calif. ($231); Dallas Love Field ($231); and Las Vegas ($235).

The average domestic fare — round trip or one way for which no return is purchased — was $315 in the first quarter, 9.1% lower than the fourth quarter of 2008 and the biggest quarter-to-quarter drop on record, according to DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

What's new

Detroit Metro to pour only Pepsi

Expect to see a lot more Pepsi signs at Detroit Metro in coming years. The airport has signed a beverage "pouring-rights" deal with Pepsi that makes it the official drink at its more than 70 restaurants and shops. All Coke products will be removed.

Exclusive agreements are becoming increasingly common at airports, which are eager to generate more non-aviation revenue as passenger traffic continues to decrease.

•Los Angeles International

is opening a Pink's Hot Dogs location in Tom Bradley International Terminal later this year. The landmark hot dog shop has been in its current Hollywood location for 70 years and is best known for its chili dogs. Many of its hot dogs are named after celebrities. The shop is part of LAX's plans to feature more local food vendors.

•Des Moines International

officials are considering changing the airport's name. Two names have been suggested: Luther Smith International or Arthur Thomas International.

Arthur Thomas, who died in 1980, was a longtime Des Moines airport manager who helped oversee its construction. Luther Smith, 88, was one of a dozen Iowa members of the all-black Tuskegee Airmen. He flew more than 100 missions. The city council will decide on the name change.

•Baltimore Washington International

began charging $2 for the first half-hour of parking, which used to be free. The airport has a free cellphone lot for drivers picking up arriving fliers.

•Piedmont Triad International

near Greensboro, N.C., will go smoke-free beginning Sept. 1. Smoking will not be allowed inside the terminal.

Route news

•Allegiant Air

, beginning Oct. 14, will introduce non-stop service between Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Phoenix-Mesa. Allegiant will fly one round-trip flight twice a week on 150-seat MD-80 jets.

•China's Hainan Airlines

has applied to the Department of Transportation to begin non-stop service between Beijing and Honolulu. If approved, Hainan would begin with one flight a week this fall, with plans to increase service as demand builds. It would be the first commercial airline to operate scheduled non-stop service between China and Hawaii, the carrier says.

China's largest privately owned carrier began service between Seattle and Beijing in 2008. "The new service is primarily targeted at Chinese tourists," the carrier says, calling Hawaii a "dream destination."

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