Airfares fall as Australian flights return to pre-pandemic capacity

It’s been four long years, but flights have finally rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.

By David Flynn, April 15 2024
Airfares fall as Australian flights return to pre-pandemic capacity

Just over four years since the global pandemic brought air travel to a standstill, new data from Flight Centre indicates both domestic and international airline capacity is back at 2019 levels, while airfares continue to fall.

Flight Centre pulled the milestone numbers from its FCM Travel and Corporate Traveller arms, and Melissa Elf, Flight Centre Corporate Global COO, says “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.”

An analysis of key international routes for Australian travellers reveals a noteworthy trend, with fares on some routes plummeting by up to 25%.

With increased capacity and competition in the market, this downward trajectory in airfares is expected to persist throughout the remainder of the year.

And while some countries continue to lag in their international and domestic capacity, others have experienced a resurgence, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Australia's international capacity currently stands at an impressive 95%, according to the Flight Centre analysis, with expectations for further growth in the coming months.

International seat capacity out of Perth now stands at 111%, while Sydney is nearing full capacity at 97%.

However, airline capacity isn't consistent across the board compared to 2019. Qantas is still off the pace, with not all of its A380 superjumbos back in the skies, while Virgin Australia has long since scuppered its long-range international flights to Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are also steadily rebuilding their Australian networks.

At the same time, several international airlines are expanding their reach – among them US carriers American Airlines and Delta – alongside new entrants such as Turkish Airlines and Vietjet.

Japan is now listed at 130% of pre-pandemic capacity for flights from Australia, with Qatar at 109%; the UK has levelled out at 100%, while Singapore hovers just under at 96% and Hong Kong at 63%, due to a shortfall in flights from both Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

Flight Centre’s Elf anticipates Australia’s international capacity will “tick up to 98% next month, and hover around that mark for the next six months.”


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 966

I don't see cheaper airfares anywhere at the moment, I'd like to see where they are cheaper. Maybe the long range jets coming in the future like Sydney direct to Istanbul might help reduce prices. 

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 147

Look at Qatar Airways flights from Australia to Helsinki. There is a heap of flights for $6000 return in business class. This is indicative of possible further increase of discounted flights to come.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1198

Fares to North America have begun to fall dramatically with lots of availability.  This is partly driven by the big 3 US airlines introducing extra flights to Australia and NZ using fleet previously directed towards China.  If China-US traffic recovers, I suspect many of these new services will disappear and I'm sure NZ and QF are hoping so too.

Flights to Europe are likely to drop in next few months as effects of Middle East tensions are felt.  Whether this is a short term on long term phenomenon will depend of geopolitical factors.  Obviously ME3 are most exposed on this at the moment.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 111

I live in Canada so can't speak for fares TO North America, but fares to Australia from Canada (at least in J) on Air Canada have climbed higher than any other worldwide destination they fly to. J is now 35%–40% higher than it was even two years ago; AC seems to put the fare up every few weeks, and I'm not exaggerating, Economy fares seem to be much higher also. Only yesterday I read that tourists have deserted Australia; well, there's one reason, for sure.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 97

"Airfares fall"? You're taking me for a ride... I've been closely following business class airfares to EU for 12 months and if anything at all they're higher now than then... 

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 147

Qatar Airways Australia to Helsinki business class, they are offered for around $6000 currently. Did you see that in your search?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 60

Capacity up maybe but we are absolutely being taken for a ride with airfare costs out of Australia across all classes. 

What happened with the airline inquiry? Not much, well maybe all fixed with a few extra Chairmans Lounge memberships.

Your kidding David, when Qantas and Thai Airways charge over $1000 to Bangkok return. It doesn't help when Qantas uses Finnair as their partner airline to drive those frequent flyers to astronomical figures. 

There's no competition in this part of the world because foreigners don't want to fly to this country due to the high living costs.

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 78

Keep in mind the CPI is up by 17% over that period too (Dec 2019 to Dec 2023)

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