Airfares to and across Europe are spiraling by anything from 15% to 50% for summer travel, due to low supply and incredibly high demand.
Michael O’Leary, the Chief Executive of Ryanair, one of Europe’s biggest airlines, has said that prices will rise as much as 15%, while the travel booking website Kayak reported that flights between European and Australian destinations have risen by as much as 50 % for summer vacations.
O’Leary told The Telegraph that average fares across Europe rose by 20% in 2022 and that this summer, he expects that fares will jump again by almost the same amount.
The reason is that airlines currently have fewer seats available compared to pre-pandemic levels and everyone is looking to get away—a trend that has been dubbed ‘revenge travel’ as people plan longer trips in summer 2023 to make up for vacations they couldn’t. t take during lockdown or last year, due to strikes and cancellations.
It’s a situation that has been compounded by the fact that some airlines have gone out of business (such as Flybe), some have retracted the growth that was planned (Eurowings) and some are not back to operating at full capacity (such as ITA in Italy and TAP in Portugal, both of whom are operating at 50% of pre-Covid capacity).
For anyone looking to fly between Australian and European cities, the situation is worse—for the travel period running from June to the end of September, the cost of a return coach flight is $2,571. The Guardians reports that this is a 46% on the same period last year and a staggering 63% above comparable pre-pandemic trips. This data from Kayak.com.au shows that Frankfurt is a marginally cheaper destination from Australia and Lisbon is the most expensive.
David Beirman is a senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney who specializes in tourism and he is not surprised by the larger sums being asked by airlines to make the same journey as before—airlines were grounded during covid and couldn’t make money, so they used up the minimal cash reserves they had. Now, they have to charge much more to account for the two lost years of revenue.
An additional factor is that many airlines use to sell plenty of business class seats that would pay for cheaper economy passengers—one business class traveler can be worth as much as six or eight economy travelers. However, as business class has still not rebounded since the pandemic, airlines have to raise their prices for normal holidaymakers.
With many people currently impacted heavily by the cost of living crisis, this would put considerable pressure on the average family looking to get away. Beirman added that the vacations that used to be in reach of middle class families are now only possible for the richer elite, people making necessary trips or those who want or have to see loved ones. Across Europe, a family of four might be forced to pay up to $125 on airfare—a considerable increase in last year.
Add to that the cost of inflation in destination countries and how much more that cocktail might cost because of the increase in alcohol and energy costs for the hotel, it might mean that some people will be forced to rethink summer holiday plans entirely.