Airfare expected to descend later this year

If you've been grounded because of sky-high airfares, relief is in sight.

A report from the app Hopper, which analyzes and predicts airfares, forecast on Monday that the average domestic round trip airfare will be $248, down 3.6 percent from the year-ago period and 8.1 percent lower than in 2013.

The reasons: A decline in fuel prices and an increase in competition driven by discount airlines, according to Patrick Surry, Hopper's chief data scientist. He expects airfares this autumn to be at their lowest level in four years.

Travelers won't have to wait until fall to see the biggest of the price drops, according to Hopper. The analysis predicts that airfare will start decreasing this month and stay lower through the end of the year.

For consumers who want to get an idea of how prices are trending on specific routes, Hopper offers a tool that allows for analysis by departure airport or on a specific route. For instance, a review of data from flights departing from Boston's Logan International Airport shows an average 22 percent price drop on flights to New Orleans. Round-trip flights on that route are now averaging $235, down from more than $300 just last month.

By comparison, flights from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport recently edged up to an average of $226 round trip from $214, but Hopper noted that prices can dip as low as $196. The data also shows that if you leave New York on a Tuesday and return on a Wednesday you'll get the lowest prices.

Travelers who want to head to Los Angeles from Dallas can already expect a big savings. Average airfares dropped to $156 round-trip from $206 last month, Hopper shows.

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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.