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.
“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%.