What’s Behind the Drop in Airfares to Europe?

why are flights to europe so cheap right now

Despite the upcoming summer Olympic Games in Paris, which kick off Friday, July 26, flights from Australia to Europe in the next few weeks are going for as low as $1200. It’s far from the $3,500 plus prices they’ve been the last couple of Euro summers.

Flights from Sydney to Paris via Shanghai on budget airline China Eastern can cost you only $1,221 return, while Sydney to Paris flights on the same airline are as low as $1,447 return. According to Chris Chamberlin, News Editor at Point Hacks, these reduced rates will be the norm — the prices from 2022 and 2023 were flukes.

“With border restrictions and COVID travel testing now a couple of years behind us, airlines are now getting their networks back on track,” says Chamberlin. “In the early days of border re-openings, travellers had no choice but to pay high prices.”

why are flights to europe so cheap
Image: Getty Images

Chamberlin says back then the number of airlines flying from Australia was limited. Now, every major carrier is back in Australia and capacity is returning to pre-pandemic levels. Airlines that only 3-4 flights a week now operate daily and some, up to thrice daily.

With so many seats to sell and much more competition in the skies, airlines need to offer attractive prices to help fill their planes – especially to destinations like Europe where there are many paths to get there.

Another reason for the cheaper flights from Australia to Europe could be in the consumers — there’s significantly less demand for the tickets, says Ivona Siniarska, director of travel agency Take Off Go.

“The initial demand from Australians after our borders reopened to reconnect with the world, and in particular Europe, has subsided a bit,” Siniarska says. “We have travelled, we have seen.”

That said, peak season travel — over school holidays and Christmas — remains busy periods for travel in Australia, she says. As a result, there’s been a lack of availability on flights during these periods and therefore higher prices. Also, Siniarska notes, pricing on flights to Europe isn’t lower than pre-COVID.

flying-plane why are flights to europe so cheap
Image: Getty Images

“It just appears that way after two years of famously high pricing,” she says. Her advice? If you want to go over a specific time, do not hesitate and book. If you are flexible with the time of year you travel, then it may be worth holding out on a sale, but there is no guarantee you’ll get a price lower than currently available.

If you are looking for a sale, Chamberlin suggests you follow the airlines’ social media pages and sign up for their email newsletters. When a sale is advertised and you’re interested, he advises you to pounce as it’ll only be up for a limited time.

“Over the years, I’ve nabbed a few absolute steals from major cities in Australia: return to Singapore for around $450, return to Los Angeles for around $650, return to Europe for just over $1000 — and all on full-service airlines, not low-cost carriers,” he says.

Aside from avoiding travelling around school holidays or Christmas, Chamberlin says another way to cut down on flight costs is to consider extra stops. When flying to Europe, most travellers will just think of a simple one-stop transit through a major hub in the Middle East or Asia — or perhaps, one of the few direct flights from Perth.

“But you can also fly to Europe one-stop via Canada, the US, South America and South Africa,” he says. “The flight might take a little longer, but you might save a pretty penny.”

Finally, you might also want to consider using frequent flyer points to reduce flight costs. On Qantas, the best-value option is always the ‘classic reward’ ticket, where the flight you’re booking can be reserved for a set number of points throughout the year, he says. But if you only have a small number of points and want to use them in some way, then you can always use them to help pay your fare.

“Some airlines call this an ‘any seat reward’ or ‘cash plus miles’,” Chamberlin says. “While it’s not the most valuable way you can spend those points, a reward point redeemed is still infinitely better than a reward point left to expire.”

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