Charlotte fares top Greensboro's

For the first time since 2005, airline tickets cost more in Charlotte than Greensboro, according to federal data released Wednesday.

Although it once was a popular alternative for cost-conscious travelers, Greensboro in the past two years had posted a higher average airfare, making some Charlotte-area residents reluctant to make the 90-minute drive.

In the first three months of this year, the average airfare for Charlotte flights was about $392, up more than 12 percent from a year earlier. In Greensboro, the average fare was about $387, down 3 percent.

Earlier this decade, Charlotte was one of the nation's most expensive airports, due largely to a lack of competition for US Airways.

For many area travelers, Greensboro was a low-cost alternative, with average fares that were $100 to $150 less than those in Charlotte.

That began to change in 2005, when US Airways merged with America West Airlines and cut prices in Charlotte. Since then, low-cost carriers AirTran and JetBlue have started service to Charlotte, and Greensboro lost flights.

Greensboro started making up ground last year after ultra-low-cost carrier Skybus began service there, driving down fares. That helped pushed the airport's average fare – almost $427 in the spring of 2006 – below $380 late last year.

But Charlotte could regain its price advantage soon. Skybus filed for bankruptcy in April and no longer flies from Greensboro.