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When looking up flight prices, I noticed it costs ~ $365 roundtrip from NYC to Managua, Nicaragua and ~ $700 roundtrip from Managua to NYC.

I assume there are similar situations from other major airports in South America.

Is this because NYC is a very popular destination whereas these cities in South America might not get as much traffic?

Also, is it legal (although I know in this situation you wouldn't be saving money) to buy a round trip from NYC to MGA and only take the return flight to get to NYC from MGA?

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    If you don't show up for the first leg, the airline will cancel the return leg. – Relaxed Sep 8 '15 at 17:27
  • I am actually not getting this much difference in price. – Karlson Sep 8 '15 at 17:38
  • @Karlson I will never understand why I just searched again and got the cheapest at $485 departing from NYC and the cheapest at $580 departing from MGA. Maybe cause I used a different site but.. – Jacob Raccuia Sep 8 '15 at 17:49
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    See e.g. Why are USA to Europe round-trip airfares more expensive than Europe to USA round-trip airfares?. Airline pricing is an arcane art, and it's not just a matter of published fares for a city pair, but of inventory and ticketing city among other things. – choster Sep 8 '15 at 18:17
  • Did you check with the same date pair? – Ayesh K Sep 9 '15 at 3:52
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Economics, it's likely that demand in one direction is higher, and as such the airlines can charge more. Or competition is lower in one direction, so they can make profits. Or landing / airport taxes might be higher, and they put it on that. This happens all over the world, and is part of travel hacking, trying to work out if you can get it cheaper ;)

We have similar questions about other routes, so I'll link to those for completeness:

However the airline still needs to get back to pick up the pricey passengers, so it's in their interest to fill the plane, even if it's at a lower rate.

As for discarding tickets, this happens, although airlines aren't always pleased. I've seen a return ticket be cheaper than a one-way regularly. Fortunately, we have a question on this too: Is leaving airport at a stop before the final destination illegal?

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