Gloomy news for travelers before the Christmas holidays

Travelers traveling on holiday over the Christmas period will continue to face expensive fares as rising demand causes costs to rise due to a lack of seat availability.

According to Webjet data, seat availability is down 25 percent, with some flights being twice as expensive as before the pandemic.

“This lack of capacity, particularly to Europe and North America, is driving up airfares as demand far exceeds actual supply,” Flight Center CEO Graham Turner told 7NEWS.

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During the pandemic, unused planes have been stored in the desert, and Turner said it would take time to get them back on the tarmac.

“A lot of these airlines were basically closed for two years,” Turner told

“It takes a while to get these planes out of the desert, train pilots and crew and so on.

“That’s not a very good reason at the moment because they’ve had 12 months to do it.

“Australia is one of the last to come back, just because we’re a little more isolated, we’ve had much stricter lockdowns than most countries.”

Flight Center CEO Graham Turner told many of the aircraft not in use during COVID would continue to be stored in the desert. Credit: 7NEWS

He said economy fares are “anywhere from 40 percent to up to 100 percent higher than pre-COVID levels.”

“Emirates is currently only flying around 70 per cent of its capacity, so there is a huge shortage through the Middle East into Europe. That’s one of the reasons airfares to Europe are so high,” Turner said.

According to Webjet, return economy class flights from Sydney to London cost $2,320 in 2019, and in 2023 the same flights cost $3,260.

Australian traveler Roger McMahon and his wife Vicky spent $8,000 on return flights to London and he told 7NEWS: “The price we paid amazed me.”

Australian travelers Roger and Vicky McMahon were left “shocked” when they paid $8,000 for their flights to London. Credit: 7NEWS

North American routes are also only at 85 percent capacity, Turner told

Round-trip economy class flights from Melbourne to Los Angeles cost $1,645 in 2019, but in 2023 fares are more than 60 percent higher, costing $2,710.

Flights from Sydney to Los Angeles are 59 percent more expensive, costing $1,550 in 2019 and now $2,465 in 2023.

Jetsetters traveling from Brisbane to Singapore paid just $1,230 for economy class return flights, but that’s a 46 per cent increase, with fares costing $1,795 in 2023.

“Singapore has come back to some extent and is building more capacity, but not until April next year,” Turner told

He said the best thing for travelers right now is to book affordable flights as far in advance as possible.

Senate spotlights sky-high tariffs

A Senate inquiry on Tuesday will put the spotlight on airfares after the government made a controversial decision to block Qatar Airways’ bid to double the 28 weekly flights it currently operates in Australia after Qantas lobbied for it.

Critics claim the move protects Qantas from competition and allows them to raise airfares.

The committee expects to hear from current and former bosses of Qantas and other airlines, alongside representatives from airports and unions, economists, the Qatari ambassador, the Consumer Protection Agency and the Productivity Commission.

Tuesday’s hearings will focus on consumer concerns and issues at Sydney Airport after a consumer watchdog report in June alleged Qantas had canceled flights to retain takeoff and landing slots at the east coast airport.

The deadline for the investigation was Monday and the report is due by October 9th.

– With AAP

Labor will present its first national budget in 13 years.

Labor will present its first national budget in 13 years.

James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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