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Airfares soared in 2012, June priciest month: report

People check flight times on a schedule board at LaGuardia Airport in New York November 21, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
People check flight times on a schedule board at LaGuardia Airport in New York November 21, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Airfares to some of the most popular U.S. and international destinations rose by 25 percent or more last year, and June was the most expensive month to travel, according to the website Kayak.com.

The costs of flights from North America to Lima soared 33 percent, London fares were up 30 percent and tickets to New Orleans, Madrid, Munich and Sydney jumped 28 percent.

Data compiled by the website, which compares hundreds of travel sites at once, showed a ticket to Paris, Beijing, Key West in Florida and Hong Kong was 25 percent more last year than in 2011, while the airfare to Toronto slumped 3 percent.

"We found that overall airfare increased 17 percent across the board from 2011 to 2012," said Maria Katime, a Kayak spokeswoman said.

"Toronto, of all the popular destinations that we looked at, was the only one where the airfare decreased," Katime added. Kayak did not analyze the reasons for the price increases.

Despite the jump in airfare to London, which hosted the Olympics and celebrated Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, was the top international destination for North American travelers, followed by San Juan, Cancun, Paris and Rome.

Gambling mecca Las Vegas topped New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and San Francisco as the most popular U.S. city to visit.

Destinations that increased in popularity in 2012 but did not have hefty increases in airfare included Punta Cana and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Tokyo, Mumbai and Nashville.

Kayak found that the cheapest flights were in January, February, September and October for domestic flights, and February and March for international fares. January was the least busy month to travel.

The cheapest average airfares for domestic trips of up to one week are for flights leaving on Saturday and returning on Monday. For longer stays, leaving on Tuesday and returning on a Wednesday can lower airfares by an average of 10 percent.

The website found the opposite for international trips. Prices were 21 percent lower than average for passengers on short trip of up to a week if they left on Tuesday and returned on a Wednesday, and 9 percent lower for longer stays with a Saturday departure and a Sunday return.

(Reporting by Pat Reaney; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Stacey Joyce)

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