Home » Fares fall as Australian air travel returns to pre-Covid capacity, Flight Centre says

Fares fall as Australian air travel returns to pre-Covid capacity, Flight Centre says

Airlines have finally shaken off the lingering effects of Covid, with capacity back to pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to data from Flight Centre.

Global seat availability climbed back over 100% of 2019 levels in April, with travellers enjoying lower air fares as a result.

“An analysis of key international routes for Australian travellers found fares on some international routes out of Australia dropped by up to 25%,” said Flight Centre Corporate’s managing director, Melissa Elf. “With more and more capacity and competition being introduced to the market, it’s a trend we’ll continue to see throughout the rest of the year.”

Australia’s international capacity is expected to tick up from 95% to 98% next month, while domestic capacity has been hovering between 98 and 100% for the last few months.

Elf said there are promising signs that air fares will continue to fall beyond the short term, with major carriers – including Delta, Singapore Airlines and China Southern – recently announcing new routes to Australia.

In the first quarter of 2024, flights to Australia’s most popular travel destination Indonesia were down 21% from the previous year at $798 return on average. Available seats to the holiday spot were at 115% of pre-pandemic capacity.

Capacity to Japan, Qatar and Papua New Guinea are also above pre-Covid levels, while the UK is back even. Routes to Hong Kong and the US have the biggest room for recovery, at just 63% and 70% of pre-pandemic capacity respectively.

International and domestic seat capacity across Qantas and Jetstar recovered to 90% of pre-pandemic levels in the second half of 2023, an increase of 25% on the previous year, the group said.

Despite falling air fares, rising cost-of-living pressures elsewhere are forcing more Australians to holiday within their own state or cancel travel plans altogether.

In a survey of 1,500 Australians conducted by Pure Profile for the travel industry’s peak body, 70% planned to go away for a holiday during the autumn school break, including 41% within their own state, up from 36% during summer.

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A further 21% will holiday interstate and 8% were planning to go overseas.

The Tourism and Transport Forum’s chief executive, Margy Osmond, said it was pleasing to see Australians supporting the local economy and tourism operators.

“But we’re concerned the sector is still feeling the impact of cost-of-living pressures with many families taking shorter holidays than originally planned, staying with friends or relatives to save money or recently cancelling their travel plans altogether,” she said.

Just over half of respondents said cost-of-living pressures had affected their decision to travel, with a quarter saying they would go away for shorter than originally planned as a result.