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Economy airfares down 25% in 12 months

written by Hannah Dowling | February 10, 2022

An Air New Zealand A320, Rex Saab 340B and Jetstar A320, as shot by Victor Pody.

Domestic economy airfares have dropped by over 25 per cent on average since February 2021, while business class fares are down 20 per cent, Australian Aviation can reveal.

According to new data released by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), its monthly airfare index for domestic economy airfares fell to 73.7 this month, down 25 per cent from February 2021.

Meanwhile, average domestic business class fares hit 55.6 on the index this month, down from 69.8 one year ago, a drop of just over 20 per cent.

The index is constructed based on figures available on airline booking sites, using the lowest available fare in each fare class, weighted over selected routes. It does not measure real airline yields, or average fares paid by passengers.

The index has been compiled using flight booking data since 1992, with data from June 2003 representing the base index value of 100.0.

The data suggests travellers are getting better deals on airfares now than in February 2021, when Australia experienced a brief reprieve of domestic travel restrictions and border restrictions between February and mid-June.

It comes after Sydney Airport reported that 949,000 domestic passengers passed through its gates over December, the highest number seen since May 2021 – just before Australia’s major Omicron outbreak, which first began in June and marked the end of Australia’s zero-COVID stance.

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By mid-December, most of the country had dropped domestic border restrictions, opting instead for pre-departure testing measures for fully vaccinated travellers.

Western Australia remains the only Australian state to retain its “hard border” stance against the rest of the country, only allowing travellers in with exemptions, and sending them into mandatory quarantine.

However, WA this week introduced a slew of new COVID-19 protocols across the state, including halving its quarantine period for international and interstate travellers and doubling its international arrivals cap.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the new protocols have been introduced to be more appropriate for a “higher case load” environment, as the state continues to navigate its current Omicron outbreak.

“The state is going to embark on a difficult period,” he said, “Western Australians should take higher case loads seriously, but it’s not a cause for panic.”

WA reported 14 new community cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, up one from the 13 cases it saw on Tuesday, and down from 26 cases of community transmission on Monday.

It also comes as Australia’s borders are set to finally reopen to fully vaccinated tourists and visa holders from 21 February, marking the first time the country has fully eased its international border restrictions since these were introduced in March 2020.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the news earlier this week, following a meeting with national cabinet.

“It’s almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia. The national cabinet has decided today Australia will reopen our borders to all remaining visa holders on February 21 of this year,” PM Morrison said.

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