Air travel ticket prices have remained remarkably stable despite the gouging that the travel industry has experienced since the advent of COVID-19 this year.
Despite all the uncertainties and rapidly changing travel and quarantine regulations, air travel prices are not significantly higher than what they were pre-COVID.
The thousands of Australians (estimated at over 25,000) who are stranded overseas and who want to return are hampered by the fact that just 500 a week are allowed to return to Australia.
They have found the prices to return before Christmas are prohibitively high – the prices quoted are for traditionally expensive seats and are quoted at above $6,000. The seats that are now available on most of these flights are the more expensive ones due to the shortage of seats to Australia.
One website quoted the cheapest return flight to Greece at $9,682 while the best ticket was quoted at $12, 146.
But airline tickets traditionally vary according to time of year and seasons. Christmas, Easter, school holidays and tourist high seasons have always dictated the price. After the Christmas season, the price of travel falls drastically to more affordable levels because the demand is less.
Costas Kavalakis of Grecian Tours said that a return ticket to Greece over the Christmas period was around $9,000 but this figure fell to $2,100-$2,200 from February onwards.
Helen Vassos, the International Marketing Director World Aviation, explained that promotional prices are the first that are to be taken up followed the next cheapest until all that remained were the most expensive tickets.
“Airlines usually make their profits from the last-minute travellers as the promotional fares are so low,” said Ms Vassos.
She said even within Economy class there were price variations. The promotional prices are usually reserved for a limited number of seats and were usually sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. There was a tiered pricing system for all classes on the aircraft and that is why it is cheaper to book a flight early.
COVID-19 has created an imbalance with more people wanting to come to Australia than to leave due to Australian government travel restrictions. The ideal for airlines is to have as many passengers flying in as flying out. At present airliners are trying to maintain that balance by flying cargo into and out of Australia.