International airfares falling as pandemic slump ends

Source: Qantas

Airlines say they have finally been able to break away from the effects of Covid-19 and send international airfares plummeting, data from Flight Centre shows.

Flight Centre corporate global COO Melissa Elf said April marked the first month since the pandemic when seat capacity on planes was beyond 100 per cent of 2019 levels.

“We’re seeing this directly correlate to decreasing airfares, which is great news for our corporate travellers who rely on travel to keep their businesses ticking and win new work,” Elf said.

Over the next month, Australia’s international capacity is expected to rise from 95 per cent to 98 per cent, while domestic capacity has been anywhere between 98 and 100 per cent over the past few months.

“It will also vary depending on the port of departure – for example, international seat capacity out of Perth is at 111 per cent, and Sydney is nearing full capacity at 97 per cent,” Elf added.

Airfares dropping drastically

Elf said Flight Centre’s analysis found key international routes for Australian travellers have found some fares on some routes drop up to 25 per cent.

This is likely going to be a trend seen throughout the year as more capacity and competition is being introduced into the market, she added.

There are also “promising signs” this will be a lasting trend, as there have been a slate of new international capacity announcements, from the likes of Delta Air Lines, Singapore Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Jetstar Airways.

“We still have some countries that are lagging in their international and domestic capacity, but some that have come back stronger than ever before,” Elf said.

“It’s evident in the data that the airlines and airports with the highest levels of capacity are seeing the best rates for passengers.”

"Sydney, Australia - March, 14th 2012: Quantas aeroplanes and tail fin with the distant view of downtown Sydney - Sydney Airport"

Flight Centre believes the trend will hang around for quite some time. Photo: AAP

In the first quarter of 2024, flights to Australia’s most popular travel destination Indonesia was down 21 per cent from the previous year at $798 return on average.

Available seats to the holiday spot were at 115 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity.

Capacity to Japan, Qatar and Papua New Guinea was also above pre-Covid levels, while the UK is back even.

Routes to Hong Kong and the US have the biggest room for recovery, at just 63 and 70 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity, respectively.

International and domestic seat capacity across Qantas and Jetstar recovered to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the second half of 2023, an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year, the group revealed in its February trading update.

Cost of living impacts travel

Despite falling airfares, rising cost-of-living pressures elsewhere are forcing more Australians to holiday within their own state or cancel travel plans altogether.

In a survey of 1500 Australians conducted by Pureprofile for the travel industry’s peak body, 70 per cent planned to go away for a holiday during the autumn school break, including 41 per cent within their own state, up from 36 per cent during summer.

A further 21 per cent will holiday interstate and eight per cent were planning to go overseas.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said it was pleasing to see Australians supporting the local economy and tourism operators.

“But we’re concerned the sector is still feeling the impact of cost-of-living pressures with many families taking shorter holidays than originally planned, staying with friends or relatives to save money, or recently cancelling their travel plans altogether,” she said.

-with AAP

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