Economy

Domestic air travel prices at 17-year lows

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Domestic airfares have hit a 17-year low, according to a new survey, with figures also revealing the cheapest fares available are nearly 30% lower than a year ago.

Domestic airfares have hit a 17-year low, according to a new survey, with figures also revealing the cheapest fares available are nearly 30% lower than a year ago.

Full economy airfares have fallen 21.6% compared to January last year, according to new figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. The bureau’s domestic airfare index also shows the rates for the best discount flights are almost half those recorded in 1993.

Airlines have been selling seats at radically discounted prices, including a Tiger Airways sale last week promoting thousands of seats for half-price. Virgin has offered 25% discounts on Sydney-Canberra flights, while Jetstar has promoted one-way fares for as little as $39.

The seats are often conditional, and usually do not offer checked-baggage options.

But although economy-class fares have plummeted in price, airlines have maintained the same prices for other classes. Business class fares have only dropped 1% from last year, while restricted economy fares have fallen by just 2.6%.

The airline and tourism industries have been hit hard by the downturn, with companies cutting back on business travel and many families opting to stay at home over the summer. The cheaper fares may work as an incentive to get these two groups travelling again.

The general manager for corporate travel consultancy Spencer Travel, Tina Killeen, says now is the time to book deals for cheap airfares.

“I think at the moment everybody wants to travel locally. We’re getting a lot of people inquiring about domestic travel and that sort of thing. Definitely, these prices will encourage people to travel locally,” she says.

“Everybody is talking about whether they should wait and see if things will be cheaper. But these prices will give the airlines a boost, as people want to book now.”

Killeen says travellers should jump on the specials as soon as they become available. “I think people should get the specials when they come out – who knows what’s going to happen in the future?”

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