Airline after major airline has filed for bankruptcy within the past few years. Now a local airport manager says the push for profitability has some of them raising prices.
"My typical week," said Steve Meyer, a regional manager for an Arizona-based company who lives in Rapid City, "I'll spend in Seattle; Portland; Phoenix; Boise, Idaho."
Within the last year, he's paid hundreds of dollars more to fly in and out of Rapid City Regional.
"I got to fly to Phoenix next week," he said, "and the flight out of here was $600 or $700, and from a Bismarck or Billings, I looked, was $340 dollars."
The options even included the same airlines and the exact same flight out of Denver.
"It's mostly driven by supply and demand," said Rapid City Airport executive director Cameron Humphres.
His runways saw a 15 percent drop in capacity last year when Frontier stopped service and other airlines cut back on seats.
"Our load factors here are running somewhere between 75 and 80 percent," he said, "and so there's strong demand for air service."
Stronger than in Gillette, where a flight I found was $150 less.
Campbell County Airport director Jay Lundell attributes that to lower demand.
But Humphres cautions against relying on Internet prices that might be what he called "teaser rates."
"That's not necessarily the ticket price that you will pay," Humphres said.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports prices from Rapid average $225, just $10 more than the national average.
But those data come from the fourth quarter of 2011, before the start of the tourism season which doubles air travel from Rapid City.
That's an increase that isn't being received well by locals.
"It comes to the point when you're trying to run a business, from a financial standpoint but also from a time," Meyer said, "you've got to be effective."
Humphres told me he doesn't expect prices to change much during the coming months unless fuel prices drop or competition increases.
Neither United nor Delta Airlines responded to requests for comment, but an e-mail from American Airlines states they can't discuss prices "as part of a U.S. Justice Department consent decree."