Sky high Airlines - Has the Descent Begun?

red plane trails

2min read

Published 17 April 2023


Over the past 12 months, business travellers have all been talking about one thing – the high price of airfares. It’s no wonder: travellers are paying much more than they did before COVID, and good deals have been scarce.  

Plane Landing Sunset
Plane Landing Sunset
Plane Landing Sunset

Explanations for inflated prices include increased demand, limited capacity on certain routes, availability of aircraft due to maintenance, elevated fuel prices, staffing shortages and higher labour costs, and airlines basically recouping losses incurred during COVID. There are myriad other factors at play too, like seasonality and the rise in extreme weather events.   

Recent Flight Centre Travel Group data shows that prices for October / November 2022 are generally higher compared to the same period in 2019. The global average international fare increase is up 15% for business fares and 12% for economy. But have the wheels come down and the descent for prices begun?  

Whilst there is still some way to go until we reach pre-COVID levels, there are good indicators from other parts of the world such as the USA, where pricing on domestic routes such as the popular JFK to LAX routing has fallen by 6% for economy class and 21% for business class compared to 2019. Closer to home, prices for Auckland to Sydney business class fares are down 30%. 

icon of Sharmin
icon of Sharmin
icon of Sharmin

According to Sharmin Lubonski, Flight Centre Business Travel Customer Success Consultant, these small decreases may reflect the start of a modest downward trend.  

“Inflation in 2023 will continue to present challenges, however as demand slows and additional supply is provided, we should see a levelling period in travel costs towards the end of 2023 and beyond,” says Sharmin.  

“Pricing is of course driven by not only demand but also capacity and the good news is that capacity has increased significantly in 2023. The current global forecast across the top 20 global corporate airlines is an average of +10% seat growth from the last quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023.” 

With so much elasticity in the market, a great Travel Manager is a critical part of understanding market trends and how to get the most out of your travel program. Your Travel Manager will work with you to ensure you find airfare options that suit your company and travellers best.  

Need help with your business travel arrangements?  

Our Travel Managers are dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable. When you work with a Flight Centre Business Travel Manager you’re choosing peace of mind. Direct access to the same person, who gets your business – and its travel needs – inside and out. 

Sharmin says there are many ways in which Flight Centre Business Travel Managers can provide insights. A few of her favourite top tips are below:

Business Traveller Economy Sunset Window
Business Traveller Economy Sunset Window
Business Traveller Economy Sunset Window

Suggesting alternative route options, airlines, or a business frequent flyer membership that you haven't taken advantage of to maximise benefits to your company. 

Using the power of an advance purchase strategy to ensure you get the best deal. Most airlines release advance purchase fares or sale fares months ahead of time. The savings on domestic airfares are considerable, even with purchase policies such as 14 days +. Your travel manager can work with you to set an air travel policy that makes the most of early airfares.

When you travel is also important. Consider seasonality and peak travel times, such as school holidays which inflate the demand and cost of air travel. It is even worth checking which day you travel - Tuesday is the new Monday in business travel with so many people working from home Mondays, which means Tuesday to Thursday are the peak days for domestic travel. The time of day also matters! It really is true that the early bird gets the worm, it is much cheaper to travel at 6am then 7:30am. 

Need help managing your travel for work? Make your business travel easy with an expert corporate Travel Manager on your side.

Get in touch today or call us on 1300 797 826

Flight Centre

Flight Centre acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia.

© Flight Centre Travel Group Limited. ATAS Accreditation No. A10412.

*Travel restrictions & conditions apply. Review any specific conditions stated and our general terms at Terms and Conditions. Prices & taxes are correct as at the date of publication & are subject to availability and change without notice. Prices quoted are on sale until the dates specified unless otherwise stated or sold out prior. Prices are per person.