Although it may not feel like it, there’s a growing body of evidence that international air travel is actually getting less expensive, and a lot of it has to do with the plummeting price of oil.
Last month, we reported on a study from Expedia that found average international ticket prices for economy class travel were down about 8 percent worldwide during 2015. And a new report in USA Today suggests that the price decline is more like 15 percent, based on U.S. Department of Labor statistics and other metrics.
For several years, the cost of international air travel has been kept high by the airlines’ imposition of fuel surcharges that at their peak could add tens or even hundreds of dollars to the price of a ticket. Any time airlines slap on a fuel surcharge, they tend to be reluctant to remove it, no matter what happens to the price of fuel.
But these days, with oil prices dropping like a rock, they are finally reducing or eliminating those surcharges — sometimes with government mandates.
The biggest fuel surcharges tended to be on the longest routes, like those across the Pacific. And that’s where some of the biggest reductions are happening.
Last month, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways eliminated their fuel surcharges on flights originating outside Japan, and they are considering a similar step for Japan-originating service as well.
The Civil Aviation Department in Hong Kong last week issued an order to airlines there that they must get rid of fuel surcharges effective February 1, according to Reuters.
Korea’s JoongAng Daily reports that fuel surcharges will be eliminated next month for both international and domestic travel on Korean Air and Asiana.
In Taiwan, the Civil Aeronautics Administration reported that fuel surcharges on long-haul flights, already low at $26, dropped to $19.50 this month, their lowest level in 11 years.
The downward trend in air travel costs might be even stronger except for rising demand. According to the International Air Travel Association, passenger demand on international routes was up 6.8 percent for the first 11 months of 2015 compared with the same period a year earlier, while capacity rose only 6.1 percent.
Still, some airlines are extremely reluctant to see that extra revenue disappearing. The BBC noted in a recent report that in lieu of fuel surcharges, British Airways has started to collect what it calls a “carrier-imposed surcharge,” and Lufthansa has something similar termed an “international surcharge,” both intended to cover a variety of vaguely-explained costs.
What does it feel like to YOU? Are flights getting cheaper or more expensive? Please leave your comments below.
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