Virgin, Jetstar, Qantas flights: Grim warning to Australian travelers ahead of the Christmas holidays

Australians are paying nearly 30 per cent more for domestic flights than before the pandemic, according to a new report, and airfares are showing signs of rising even higher ahead of the Christmas holidays.

An analysis by Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission also found that “discounted economy fares” were hit hardest by rising prices, with some setting a 15-year record due to limited capacity and strong demand.

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And the Consumer Protection Agency pledged to “closely monitor” airlines after all three of Australia’s big carriers forecast sizeable profits this year.

The latest insight comes from the Commission’s report on airline competition in Australia, which has been produced quarterly since June 2020.

According to the report, passengers paid an average of 27 percent more for domestic travel in October this year than in October 2019, with costs rising sharply since January 2022.

ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said the fare increases were due to a very “volatile” travel market that has seen historic ups and downs for air fares.

The ACCC found that average domestic fares in October were 27 percent higher than in October 2019. Recognition: AAP

“Airfares have risen due to strong travel demand and limited supply as airlines have cut schedules in response to high kerosene costs and operational challenges,” she said.

However, the report found that some fares were hit harder than others.

Prices for discounted economy fares rose the most, the commission found, with the average fare in November 2022 costing more than twice what it was in April 2022.

Higher-priced flexible economy and business fares have not been affected as badly – an issue the Commission will continue to monitor, Brakey said.

“We accept that airlines are still facing some pandemic-related resource issues, but the ACCC will monitor them closely to ensure they are returning capacity to the market in a timely manner to ease the pressure on fares,” she said.

“We would be concerned if airlines held back capacity to keep airfares high.”

In better news for Australian travelers, the report also found that flight cancellations and delays were falling closer to normal levels.

An average of 2.9 percent of domestic flights were canceled in October this year, up from 6.4 percent in July.

Jetstar and Virgin had the highest number of flight cancellations at 3.9 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively, both above the long-term average of 2.1 percent.

Industry-wide flight delays also fell from 45 percent in July to 30 percent in October, but remained well above the long-term average of 18 percent.

Travel complaints as airport firefighters go on strike.

Travel complaints as airport firefighters go on strike. Virgin, Jetstar, Qantas flights: Grim warning to Australian travelers ahead of the Christmas holidays

James Brien

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