"Watcjer" pursues a couple of great questions in follow-up to last week's posting "Cheaper Fares in Tulsa:"
"I frequently fly to west coast. As usual...I can fly out of JOPLIN or FAYETTEVILLE cheaper than Springfield. I usually purchase on cheaptickets.com. At present, for a fall trip, I can fly out of either JLN or XNA for $343.00 roundtrip. It costs $510.00 out of Springfield. Why can they have competitive pricing? Are their markets larger too?"
The Joplin airport has Essential Air Service (EAS). EAS is a federally funded program which provides small cities with a "minimal level of scheduled service." Bottom line: Joplin's air service is subsidized by the federal government. In this case, two airlines are guaranteed a certain amount to fly from that market. Generally speaking, flyers pay a minimal fare. Here's a news story on the subject from the Joplin Globe.
Fayetteville is a different story altogether and I'm going to quote myself from an earlier post... The question can be answered in one word: Wal-Mart.
The NW Arkansas Airport benefits from the large concentration of national corporate offices in the area (Wal-mart, J.B. Hunt, Tyson Foods, etc.). This is why it's possible to fly nonstop from NW Arkansas to places like Miami, New York City and Los Angeles. The service is provided due to the large number of business people making the pilgrimage to corporate Wal-Mart. Did you know that Wal-Mart requires potential vendors to come to Bentonville to make their sales pitch?
Earlier this summer the Wall Street Journal reported that that airport has the third highest ticket prices in the country due to all the business travel. Take a look at the coverage given the Journal story by a Fayetteville TV station. In 2006 Springfield moved 862,611 passengers. Northwest Arkansas moved 1,172,049. Bottom line: it's a bigger market, with a larger percentage of business traffic, which is driven by the corporate offices in the area.