It’s Bloody Expensive to Fly, and It’s Not Getting Cheaper Anytime Soon

why are flights so expensive right now

After years (years!) of being locked into our little island home, Aussies are absolutely raring to get overseas and soak up some winter sun and spritz in equal measure.

Practically everyone you know is draining European stocks of Aperol to dangerously low levels on some Mediterranean beach right now and, unfortunately, joining them is not going to come cheap.

Yes, everything is eye-wateringly expensive right now and the aviation industry is a big player in the scene of things-we-don’t-remember-costing-this-much. While staff shortages in the industry have led to mega queues, cancelled flights, and long delays, the soaring price of fuel is simultaneously pushing ticket prices through the roof.

Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have said that they will be passing on those extra fuel costs to you, the lucky customer, in a bid to stay viable. This is in spite of the fact that both of Australia’s biggest airlines are operating at a capacity above pre-pandemic levels, on domestic routes at least.

Qantas has also said they will be cutting back on flights, in addition to increasing their prices of them, although their demand is yet to be impacted at all by inflation and cost of living pressures. Virgin, on the other hand, have passed two fare increases but has said that they won’t be cutting capacity at this point as the airline is hoping to pick up some of the slack from Qantas.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wrote in its June airline report that: “Qantas will respond to the high fuel prices by reducing capacity over July and August 2022 and increasing fares.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told reporters in Doha on Sunday that: “We are seeing really strong demand internationally across the board and that is helping us recover oil prices in the international market.”

“In domestic, we may need a little less capacity in the market to get that recovery and we are working through that at the moment.”

When Joyce was questioned on 2GB Radio last week about doubled airfares, he argued that “fuel prices have spiked and our fuel bill next year will be 1.8 billion more than it was before COVID.”

Those looking to book last-minute winter getaways to sunny European shores are looking at up to $6,000 for a return economy ticket on most routes. Even the cheapest fares over the coming weeks, involving multiple layovers and travel time over 40 hours, still cost around $3,000.

Rising fuel costs are one thing, but a lack of competition in the Australian market is another big contributing factor, argues Naomi Hahn of the price comparison site Skyscanner.

“Now that international borders are open again, a lot of Australian holiday destinations are booking up … in some instances for the rest of the year,” she told The Guardian.

In the current climate, it’s pretty much impossible to live a pre-pandemic travel life on a pre-pandemic budget. However, experts are urging people who want to get away to book well in advance — like, five months in advance — and be as flexible as possible on destinations, routes, and dates. Avoiding peak seasons if possible and snapping up airline sales when they go live is also key advice

As to when this all might let up, we’re looking at early to mid-2023 before demand eases. That’s according to Airline Intelligence & Research CEO Tony Webber. He argues that Australians still have a fair chunk of savings from the pandemic and that we’re willing to pay almost any price to finally leave the country.

In the long run, though, that’s going to come to an end: “Once [inflation] starts to really take hold, combined with the higher fares and lower real income, that will start to affect travel,” he told The New Daily.

So, if you’ve yet to book your getaway this year, you’ll want to jump on it quick. If not, you’re probably better off exploring some great domestic options while you wait for things to return to normal.

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