Australians hoping to save on an airfare to Europe by booking early can expect to pay up to twice as much as last year.
Factors driving up fares include high fuel costs, strong demand and airlines looking to recoup pandemic losses, with the average cost of a flight to Europe up by as much as 53 per cent, according to flight comparison website Kayak.
Economy and business class international airfares during the northern hemisphere’s peak summer travel season from June to mid-September have soared by 21 per cent year-on-year, to $1913 and $7442 respectively.
Round-trip flights to London, Kayak’s most-searched European city, have increased by 24 per cent year-on-year to $2225.
Among the European destinations seeing the biggest fare increases are Rome (up 53 per cent, with average fares of $2436), Athens (up 44 per cent with fares of $2336), and Istanbul (up 39 per cent with fares of $1913).
Paris, Kayak’s second-most searched European city, has seen the smallest increase, with fares up six per cent year-on-year ($1891).
Despite global flight capacity increasing over the past 12 months, addressing some of the constraints pushing fares up, airfares will continue to increase so long as demand remains high.
Airfares to Europe are 21 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium, with average return flights shifting from $1743 to $2109 (based on October 2019 and 2022).
Cirium’s Mike Arnot said: “All of the global carriers flying to and from Australia want to recoup lost revenue, coupled with undoubtedly higher passenger demand than previously seen, and higher fuel prices.”
“Higher fares will be the direct result, and you see that when trying to book now. Fares will stabilise at a higher rate than years past and for the foreseeable future,” said Arnot.
Airlines won’t need to stimulate sales by offering cheap fares, according to Arnot.
“There’s a fellow passenger out there you’re competing with now that is willing to pay $50 more than you,” said Arnot.
Professor Rico Merkert, an aviation expert at the University of Sydney, said we’re not likely to see fares drop in the near future, but some of the financial headwinds will ease as airlines, and in particular low-cost airlines, add Australian routes.
“The Middle Eastern carriers and the Asian carriers are just starting to get the capacity back online,” said Merkert.
Europe services may also continue to be impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It’s affecting the cost of freight and also those airlines that would normally use Russian/Ukrainian airspace who now need to account for lengthy and costly detours,” said Merkert.
When will flights come down again?
“Hopefully by mid-2023, when pent-up demand will subside, a mild recession will have an impact on discretionary income and international capacity will return to pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Merkert.
Those yet to book their Europe flights should aim to book as far ahead as possible for the best deal.
Kayak brand director Nicola Carmichael said: “Booking your flight 178 days in advance – half a year – could help you save up to about 55 per cent on average of your international flight price.”
Being flexible with your Europe gateway destination can also shave hundreds off your travel costs.
“Italy’s average airfares have increased by 50 per cent since 2022, but flights to Paris are only around six per cent – and Paris is just a short two-hour flight away from Rome,” she said.
SKY HIGH FARES
London, UK: $2225 (24% increase YoY)
Paris, France: $1891 (6% increase YoY)
Athens, Greece: $2336 (44% increase YoY)
Rome, Italy: $2436 (53% increase YoY)
Istanbul, Turkey: $1913 (39% increase YoY)
*Average return economy airfares based on Kayak.com.au most-searched European flight routes from Australia (October 1, 2022-January 2, 2023) for travel between June 1 and September 15, 2023
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