The ticket was bought 2 days before the flight and cost $75. SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS, Karl! It was not a special price or anything - I simply picked the time that worked for me (there is probably a flight leaving every hour on this route). This works out to roughly $50 per hought of flight time (including luggage). I wonder how that compares to US / EU air costs (does NY - CHI flight normally cost $90)?
Now - I suspect that the government is actively encouraging low cost airlines because the country is extremely large with no real way of getting around other than air (it occupies an area roughly the size of the US but spread over thousands of islands and no highways outside of metro areas). Labor costs are obviously markedly lower here (which accounts for 35% of US airline industry) - but still, I doubt that you can buy a regular air ticket in US/Europe for $50-$60 per hour of flight time (all-in price, no dastardly fees).
Something I hope the West can learn.