Travellers holidaying over the Christmas period will continue to face expensive fares as increased demand causes costs to surge amid a lack of seat supply.
Seat availability is down 25 per cent, with some flights twice as expensive as pre-pandemic prices, according to Webjet data.
“This lack of capacity, particularly to Europe and North America, is driving these airfares up, because this demand is much more than the actual supply,” Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner told 7NEWS.
Catch the best deals and products hand-picked by our team at Best Picks >>
Unused planes were stored in the desert during the pandemic, and Turner said it was taking time to get them back on the tarmac.
Travellers stunned to discover what oxygen masks on planes connect to. It’s not an air tank
With its big, bustling cities, Vietnam is about finding calm amid the chaos
“A lot of these airlines were shut down for two years, pretty much,” Turner told 7NEWS.com.au
“It does take a while to get these planes out of the desert, get pilots and crew trained and all of that sort of stuff.
“That’s not a very good reason right now because they’ve had 12 months to do that.
“Australia is one of the last to come back, just because we’re a bit more isolated, we had much stricter lockdowns than most countries.”
Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner told 7NEWS.com.au many of the planes unused during COVID remain stored in the desert. Credit: 7NEWS
He said economy fares were “somewhere from 40 per cent, up to 100 per cent higher than pre-COVID”.
“Emirates is only flying about 70 per cent of their capacity at the moment, so there’s a big shortage through the Middle East through to Europe. That’s one of the reasons the airfare prices are so high to Europe,” Turner said.
Return economy fares from Sydney to London were $2320 in 2019, the same flights costing $3260 in 2023, according to Webjet data.
Australian traveller Roger McMahon and his wife Vicky spent $8000 on return flights to London, and he told 7NEWS: “It staggered me, the price we paid.”
Aussie travellers Roger and Vicky McMahon were ‘staggered’ when they paid $8000 for their flights to London. Credit: 7NEWS
North American routes are also only flying at 85 per cent capacity, Turner told 7NEWS.com.au.
Return economy flights from Melbourne to Los Angeles cost $1645 in 2019, but in 2023 the fares are more than 60 per cent higher, costing $2710.
Flights from Sydney to Los Angeles are 59 per cent more expensive, costing $1550 in 2019, and now $2465 in 2023.
Jet-setters heading from Brisbane to Singapore paid just $1230 for return economy flights, but that is up 46 per cent, with the fares costing $1795 in 2023.
“Singapore has come back to a certain extent, and it’s putting more capacity on, but not until April next year,” Turner told 7ENWS.com.au.
He said travellers’ best bet for affordable flights right now is to book as far in advance as possible.
Senate spotlight on sky-high fares
A Senate inquiry on Tuesday will put flight prices in the spotlight after the government made a controversial decision to block Qatar Airways’ bid to double the 28 weekly services it currently offers in Australia, after being lobbied by Qantas.
Critics claim the move shields Qantas from competition and allows them to inflate airfares.
The committee is expecting to hear from the current and former heads of Qantas and other airlines, alongside representatives from airports and unions, economists, the Qatari ambassador, the consumer watchdog and the Productivity Commission.
Tuesday’s hearings will focus on consumer concerns and issues at Sydney Airport after a June report from the consumer watchdog alleged Qantas had cancelled flights to keep take-off and landing slots at the East Coast airport.
Submissions for the inquiry closed on Monday and it is due to report by October 9.
– With AAP
Aussie traveller’s disgusting find on Qantas plane
You can double your annual leave in 2024 – here are the holiday dates you need to take
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.