Australian airlines are forcing passengers to pay exorbitant prices for airfares during the upcoming holiday period, with passengers slugged almost triple the cost for some flights.
The New Daily analysed and compared airfares from major Australian airlines during peak and off-peak seasons, including various dates between Friday, December 21 to Wednesday, January 2 and Friday, February 22 to Friday, March 1.
The figures revealed that for a round trip from Sydney to Perth flying Jetstar, passengers are forced to pay $1368 between December 21 to December 29, compared to off-peak between February 23 to March 1 at $475.
If passengers are flying with Qantas from Sydney to Auckland, they will have to fork out $1071 for a round trip between December 21 to December 29, compared to $536 between February 22 to March 1.
If flying with Virgin Australia taking the popular Sydney to Melbourne route, it will costs travellers $409 for a round trip between December 23 to January 2, compared to $240 between February 22 and March 1.
Tigerair was the cheapest local airline with flights from Melbourne to Adelaide during December 23 to January 2 costing $223 for a round trip, and at $148 between February 22 to March 1.
The New Daily also analysed flights by Virgin Australia between Brisbane to Adelaide, revealing passengers will have to pay almost double in the Christmas to New Year period, compared to off-peak.
For passengers flying to the Gold Coast from Melbourne with Qantas, they will have to fork out $624 for a return trip during peak times compared to $333 off-peak.
Why the price hike?
The New Daily sought comment from all major Australian airlines regarding airfare costs.
A Virgin Australia spokeswoman said airfare pricing on any given route was driven by a combination of factors, including demand, how close the date of booking is to the date of travel, competitive activity, seasonality, operating costs and third-party costs, such as airport pricing and taxes.
“It is always best for guests to book their flights as early as they can to ensure they have the best selection of flight times, seat choice and fare options,” the spokeswoman told The New Daily.
She said the airline had added some seasonal services across the holiday period, including Newcastle-Auckland operating until February 17, and Perth to Gold Coast from December 13 to January 26.
A Jetstar spokesman said the airlines recommended to always book in advance and directly through its website as it had a price beat guarantee tool.
“You can check on the website and as every year Jetstar has a Christmas sale, too,” the spokesman said.
The New Daily understands that Tigerair Australia also works to a demand schedule where prices fluctuate depending on different periods throughout the year.
A Melbourne Airport spokesman said airport charges did not fluctuate with demand and that they were agreed through negotiation with airlines which were usually on five-year terms.
“Travellers can see how much airport charges contribute to the overall fare price as this information is shown on your online booking confirmation,” the spokesman told The New Daily.
The best time to book
Consumer expert Dr Gary Mortimer said travellers would understand that if they had to fly during peak periods they would be forced to pay a premium price.
“There is greater demand but very little capacity as there’s only so many airlines and seats available – so the price naturally goes up,” Dr Mortimer told The New Daily.
“Travellers can save by being more flexible with flights, so if you can fly a day earlier or come back a day later then you may be able to save money.
“If you’re willing to do longer stopovers then you may also save money.”
Airline Intelligence & Research managing director and former Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber said buying flights to depart on weekends was more expensive.
“Other costly times to book include school holidays, long weekends and even major entertainment events,” Dr Webber told The New Daily.
Michael Schischka, manager at boutique travel agency Mary Rossi Travel in Sydney, said it was important for travellers to book their flights as early as possible.
“At peak times more people are travelling therefore the prices appear to be more expensive because only the higher fares are left compared to prices once the holidays are over as there’s more availability,” Mr Schischka said.
Qantas and Tigerair Australia were contacted for comment.