Airfares have hit a two year high – and they’re not slowing down

What goes up must come down. At least, that’s how the saying goes…

By Staff Writers, December 6 2022
Airfares have hit a two year high – and they’re not slowing down

Australian travellers hoping for relief from high airfares may be facing a lengthy wait, with a new ACCC report showing the cheapest airfares have more than doubled in the last seven months. As we enter the busy holiday period, they have the perfect conditions to soar even higher.

Released today, the quarterly ‘Airline Competition in Australia’ report reveals average revenue per passenger, an indication of average airfares across all fare types, was 27% higher in October 2022 than the same month in 2019.

However, despite revealing airfares have now reached a two year high, the consumer watchdog believes airlines aren’t the ones to blame. Instead, it cites market forces, reduced capacity and surging demand as the driving forces behind the sky high pricing. 

That said, flexible economy and business airfares have not increased as much as discount fares, with prices in November 2022 remaining below pre-pandemic levels. 

Although absolving the domestic airlines of any current wrongdoing, the ACCC is still keeping a close eye on them to ensure market capacity returns in a timely manner – not intentionally withheld to keep airfares high – and bring downward pressure on fares.

Data collected by the ACCC from Qantas, Jetstar, Rex and Virgin.
Data collected by the ACCC from Qantas, Jetstar, Rex and Virgin.

“Airfares have risen due to strong demand for travel and constrained supply as airlines have scaled back their schedules in response to high jet fuel costs and operational challenges,” explains ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey.

Ms Brakey says historic lows and highs for discount airfares in the same year illustrate how changeable the market has been as the industry recovers from the pandemic.

“We accept that the airlines are still experiencing some pandemic-related resource challenges, but the ACCC will be monitoring them closely to ensure they return capacity to the market in a timely manner to start easing pressure on airfares.”

Reliability has improved in recent months though, with cancellations falling from 6.4% in July to 2.9% in October, while the rate of delayed flights also fell from 45.0% to 30.7%.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 64

currently $1000 one way across to New Zealand and if your lucky you might snag a "cheaper" $600 one way fair 


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 134

Haha I paid that from Brisbane to Rockhampton in July. I took the train back on principle.

08 Sep 2018

Total posts 26

Airlines are trying to make up lost ground from multiple years of high losses. This is a once in an industry lifetime to take advantage of sky high margins not seen before. Is nothing the ACCC can do about that. 

Only two things that will break this, an increase in capacity from someone (Rex, Bonza) or the market softening. Many analysts have said in recent weeks they will be watching closely come February and if any softening starts to bubble. 


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 951

The economy crashes in February, maybe January this time around. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2020

Total posts 24

lack of wide body jets for both QF and VA on domestic routes is an issue with capacity


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 951

Very Good Point, even a wide body doing the triangle would be able to drop the price. 

21 Apr 2019

Total posts 25

Add to that reward seats either unavailable or asking hugely inflated points required.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 105

Currently pricing Mel - syd - Mel…. Well over the $1200 mark if you book in advance! Last minute prices are $8-900 each way… better i just use teams or zoom !

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 45

The ACCC is a joke anyway. They are never proactive and if they do do something they turn to water at the slightest push back from the guilty party.

24 Jun 2020

Total posts 46

And throw in taxes also at an all time high especially overseas like Dubai and London


23 Feb 2016

Total posts 21

Colleague paid more than $1500 return to Perth over the holiday period and he booked months out - wish they would increase capacity to some wide-body jets. 

Flying domestically is costing a fortune for a really shitty experience atm...


09 May 2020

Total posts 561

I find it hard to believe the quote in other news outlet that the current QF capacity is 95% that’s of prepandemic. Unless this includes seats flights that are sold but not fulfilled due to cancellation. There are obvious gaps in flight schedules some between 60-90 minutes for flights between SYD, MEL and BNE whereas it would have been flights every 30 mins in 2019

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 469

In some cases it's often cheaper to fly to Asia than most domestic destinations if timed right and to have such a holiday too.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 118

Been keeping an eye on USA first class flights, and pre-pandemic I paid circa $9k - $12k numerous times return in F from Aust east coast on QF for earlybird, but recently seen flights as high as $25k up until 26th Jan departures (i.e. peak). Some sale fares to LAX departing Jan 27th onwards (ending this week) for $13.5k is getting back to something normal.

Just booked MEL-SYD-CHC (in F on EK A380 between SYD-CHC) on QF codeshare for $3,016 return - that exact same routing cost me $2,951 pre-pandemic, so really only a nominal increase given the broader inflation / cost of living increases. Flights to Europe still way overpriced, and the current non-sale fares to USA are just taking the urine.

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