Good news for those who are looking to book a domestic flight in Australia, as airfares have become cheaper over the past year. However, don’t start chanting hallelujah just yet: these flights, while cheaper, are still most likely going to be late.
A new report shows that the Covid, inflation and cost of living- impacted airline prices have finally cooled off. Current prices are reflective of those circa late 2019.
The ACCC released its latest Domestic Airline Competition report showing prices of Aussie flights were 13.4 per cent cheaper in December 2023 compared to December 2022 (FYI, the ACCC noted these fares were adjusted with inflation in mind).
But, it isn’t always all smooth sailing (or flying) when it comes to air travel in Australia. The ACCC also pointed out that cancellations and delays are higher than long-term industry averages.
The ACCC went so far as to say that these flight delays are a “significant concern.” Yikes.
In December 2023, five per cent of flights were cancelled, which, according to the ACCC, is more than double the long-term average. Only 63.6 per cent of flights arrived on time in December 2023, compared to the long-term average of 81.1 per cent.
“The persistently high rates of cancellations and delays compared to long-term averages in the second half of last year were clearly disappointing for consumers,” ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
Airservices Australia has acknowledged that a shortage of air traffic controllers has, in part, contributed to this poor performance.
The impact of the pandemic seems to have lifted mostly off the airline sector, with average revenue per passenger and passenger levels beginning to meet pre-pandemic numbers.
Average revenue per passenger in December 2023 was also below pre-pandemic levels (December 2019) in real terms. But those looking for a bargain will be disappointed with the ACCC pointing out that ‘best discount’ economy airfares remain higher than they were in December 2019.
In December 2023, roughly 4.8 million people flew domestically, which is 94 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
The passenger rate has generally stayed between 90 and 95 per cent since December 2022.
There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, or should I say runway?
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