The cost of flight tickets post Covid-19: Will South Africans be able to afford it?
Two things can happen once travel is safe again. Airlines could either offer discounts to lure travellers, or the air tickets could cost a fortune. As the airline industry has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, experts are leaning towards the latter.
As travel is likely to become a demand post Covid-19, getting your hands on a ticket could be costly. IATA’s director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said social distancing measures on planes could “fundamentally shift the economics of aviation by slashing the maximum load factor to 62 percent”.
He said with fewer seats to sell, unit costs would rise sharply. He revealed airfares would need to go up dramatically, between 43 and 54% depending on the region, to break even when compared to 2019.
“Airlines are fighting for their survival. Eliminating the middle seat will raise costs. If that can be offset that with higher fares, the era of affordable travel will come to an end. On the other hand, if airlines can’t recoup the costs in higher fares, airlines will go bust. Neither is a good option when the world will need strong connectivity to help kick-start the recovery from Covid-19’s economic devastation.
“We must arrive at a solution that gives passengers the confidence to fly and keeps the cost of flying affordable. One without the other will have no lasting benefit,” he said.
Forbes revealed the cost of air ticket could double on some carriers. The publication compared a US-Europe economy return in early June, which cost from $2 126 (R38 891) with Delta and a first-class ticket for the same Atlanta-Paris flight costs from $7 085 (R129 608).
While it remains unclear what the cost will be for domestic flights in South Africa, and South Africa to other international destinations, Jennifer Morris, the owner of Travel Savvy, believes that the price of travel will increase exponentially.
“Unfortunately, I think the price of air travel is going to go up quite a lot. There will be fewer airlines operating and fewer seats available due to social distancing rules on aircraft. I suspect that the domestic travel sector will see a boom, but that international travel will once again become unaffordable for many people,” she said.