Airlines keeping budget airfares low

Fares for the cheapest domestic tickets have fallen sharply from where they were a year ago, highlighting the sluggish nature of demand at the leisure end of the market.

However, those looking to experience all the luxuries of business class may have to pay a little more.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) monthly report on domestic ticket prices showed the index measuring the best discount economy fare was at 55.5 index points in March.

It was the lowest March figure since records began in 1993 and well down from 64.9 index points recorded in March 2015.

Further, the BITRE report figures showed the best discount economy index has been lower for the past five months, when compared with the prior corresponding period.

The report indicates Australia’s domestic carriers have been trying to keep ticket prices low in an effort to stimulate or maintain demand among price-sensitive leisure travellers.

All Australia’s major carriers had big promotional sales efforts in March, with Jetstar extending its Easter sale to the end of the month with fares as low as $39 one-way.

Meanwhile, Tigerair Australia’s current promotions include offering those who bought a one-way ticket on select routes the opportunity to buy the return flight for $1, with flights available only on certain days of the week and at certain times.

At the full-service end of the market, Virgin Australia’s ends its nine-day “epic” sale, which includes $89 one-way fares on the busy Sydney-Melbourne route, on Tuesday night.

Qantas’s Easter flight specials sale also ends on Tuesday night, with Sydney-Brisbane priced at $95 among the sale fares offered.

All prices are before any potential credit card fees and other add-ons.

The BITRE measure of air fares for business class domestic travel indicated the corporate and government market was in a more robust shape, with the business class index rising to 95.2 points in March, up from 89.5 points in the same month a year ago.

The restricted economy index rose to 79.4 index points, from 76.4 points in March 2015.

BITRE says its air fare series is a price index of the lowest available fare in each fare class, weighted over selected routes.


Australian Aviation

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