International Airfare Prices in Freefall

22 December 2012

If it's been five years since you travelled overseas, you may be in for a pleasant surprise when you book your next international flight. Airfare research by Flight Centre shows that the cheapest international flights are now, on average, almost 25 per cent cheaper than five years ago.

Travellers who book the cheapest international fares are saving hundreds of dollars and, in some cases, are paying half as much as they were paying in December 2007.

 International Airline Prices in Decline

Flight Centre Limited managing director Graham Turner said the significant drop in airfare prices was at odds with pricing trends in other sectors.

"Australian travellers are getting more for their money when they take off overseas," he said. "Inflation in Australia has increased more than 10 per cent during the past five years and average wages have increased more than 20 percent, but airfare prices have actually fallen. This means international travel has become significantly more affordable," said Mr Turner.

"In recent years, competition has increased between the airlines – more carriers have a presence here and new airlines have emerged, including new age and low cost carriers. This has led to incredible airfare bargains for Australian travellers."

Flight Centre analysed the cheapest advertised return fares to ten popular international locations and compared current prices to fares offered to the same destinations in early December 2007.

Fares to all destinations were cheaper than five years ago, with savings ranging from 3% (Fiji) to 51% (Singapore). The average saving was $267, or 24%.

In addition to Singapore, the best bargains were on offer to Bali (down 36%), Bangkok (down 30%), Phuket (down 26%) and Los Angeles (down 25%). The cheapest London fare was 11% cheaper in 2012 than it was in 2007.

"As far as airfare affordability is concerned, London seems to become more accessible for the average Australian traveller with every passing year," Mr Turner said.

"Historically, a flight to the UK was a major investment that represented months or even years of savings for the average traveller. Now a ticket is within reach of most workers."

The 29 passengers aboard the first Qantas Lockheed Constellation that took off to London 65 years ago paid the equivalent of $1170 – about 85 weeks' pay for the average worker at the time – for the four-day each-way flight.

Based on current average wages in Australia, the 1947 fare cost the equivalent of more than $120,000 in today's dollars.

In the early 1990s, Qantas sparked a price war on the Kangaroo route when it offered $1800 return fares. Flight Centre is currently offering flights from Sydney to London from $1414.

In addition to accessing cheaper point-to-point fares, today's travellers are also saving on multi-stop airfares. For example, Flight Centre is currently advertising a $994 return Double Dip fare from Sydney that allows travellers to visit both Bali and Kuala Lumpur. Five years ago, the cheapest return flight to Bali alone cost $999.

Findings of Flight Centre's airfare price survey are summarised in the table below.

ROUTE DECEMBER 2007 ADVERTISED PRICE DECEMBER 2012 ADVERTISED PRICE SAVING (%)
Sydney-Auckland $359 $330 Down 8%
Sydney-Bali $999 $642 Down 36%
Sydney-Bangkok $955 $664 Down 30%
Sydney-Fiji $565 $550 Down 3%
Sydney-Hong Kong $1039 $797 Down 23%
Sydney-London $1595 $1413 Down 11%
Sydney-LA $1539 $1160 Down 25%
Sydney-New York $1765 $1421 Down 19%
Sydney-Phuket $1079 $794 Down 26%
Sydney-Singapore $1069 $519 Down 51%

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