Specifically, fares from the West Coast to CLT. I fly from Sacramento to North Carolina a few times a year. CLT is by far the most convenient airport for me to fly to, but I used to often fly to RDU to get a cheaper fare. I've always understood that the reason it was more expensive to fly to CLT was the dominance of US Airways in that market. It seems like starting about a year ago, though, fares to CLT dropped to about the same level as RDU.
For example, when I flew in summer 2005 SMF-CLT would have cost me well over $400, SMF-GSO wasn't much cheaper, but SMF-RDU was nearly $200 cheaper. Now I'll be traveling there again next month, and the fares to either airport are mostly in the $225-$275 range. In fact it looks like the cheapest fare to CLT is slightly cheaper than the cheapest fare to RDU.
Now I realize my own personal experience provides very few data points, and the difference I saw in fares then and now could just be coincidental. I wonder if someone with more knowledge of the industry than myself could confirm my suspicion that it used to be much more expensive to fly to CLT than it is now?
As a follow up question, if I am correct, why have fares to CLT dropped so much? Does it have anything to do with the US/HP merger? It seems like most people here say that the merger hasn't reduced fares, but I wonder if those people are thinking of fares between US Airways markets in the East. Could it be that the merger actually did reduce fares in the specific case of fares to CLT from small/medium sized markets in the West? Or is there some other reason, like more competition between other airlines in these markets?