Remember the days of cheap airline tickets that would cost less than a family McDonald’s box for a one-way ticket? Byron Bay for $49, maybe the Gold Coast for even less.
Going into the silly season, experts say Australians should not get their hopes up for such deals during the anticipated Christmas travel period and well into 2023 – with rising jet fuel prices, fewer scheduled flights and pent-up demand for trips. contributed to some of the highest airfares seen in five years.
In September, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its quarterly report on airline competition in Australia. The report – along with airline market results – showed that domestic airfares increased significantly between April and August.
But with demand has come a significant shift in airfare prices, with the ACCC revealing that the cheapest budget airfares were 56% higher in August 2022 than they were in April 2022.
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Speaking to SBS, David Beirman – a tourism expert at the University of Technology Sydney – said high prices were likely to remain as long as demand was high and debt persisted for airlines.
“For 50 years, basically between 1970 and the onset of Covid-19 in 2020, airfares really went down year after year in both real dollars and real dollars,” he said.
“Covid-19 spoiled all of that… because of the incredible restrictions on airline operations, airlines were basically losing money hand in hand…
Beirman said rising fuel prices, along with persistent staff shortages affecting some airlines, have created the perfect storm for travelers this holiday season.
“Factors like rising fuel prices, trying to make up for losses, paying new staff … a number of different factors that really influenced airfares,” he explained.
Monash University aviation expert Professor Greg Bambers said that with no restrictions on travelers compared to the past two festive seasons, demand far outstrips supply in terms of available flights.
“There is a huge demand; people haven’t been able to travel for almost three years to catch up with friends and family or business customers or suppliers and there’s a lot of pent-up demand,” he said.
“People (are) trying to travel, but there is reduced capacity … airlines have cut the number of flights, so there is high demand for fewer seats, and airlines have raised prices.
“Airlines are prioritizing profit over people.”
And it’s not just here – but the pinch is being felt around the world.
According to Business Informant,US travelers are being told they will pay about 40% more for domestic air travel this year during the Christmas season compared to last year’s holiday, and just over 30% more than in 2019.
With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, experts are predicting that the Friday before it – December 23rd – will carry the highest price.
Currently, a one-way ticket from Melbourne to Sydney the week before Christmas hovers around the $200 mark, while the cheapest single fare from Perth to Sydney on the popular Friday before Christmas will cost nearly $1,000 per person.
Currently, Sydney to the Gold Coast on the Friday before Christmas will cost around $250 one way with Jetstar (without luggage) and nearly $300 per passenger with Virgin Australia. Qantas has some flights starting at $340 per person, with other seats around the $600 mark.
The Australian airline is bracing for potential disruptions, with more than 1,000 Qantas domestic flight attendants voting in favor of strike action this year.
The action is in response to the request to work longer shifts and have shorter breaks.
According to ABC, the Association of Flight Attendants of Australia (FAAA) said 99% of the votes received were in favor of the strike, with a strike likely to last 24 hours – which would cause chaos for the airline over the Christmas period. . , however, the FAAA said it will strive to “minimize disruptions” during the holiday period.
“We are looking for a fair offer that does not send flight attendants’ pay and conditions backwards,” the union said in a statement, which Qantas responded to as a “disappointing step by the FAA.”
It added: “The aim is to take a measured approach to any industrial action that minimizes disruption to the traveling public, particularly during the upcoming Christmas holiday peak.”