COVID chaos sees Australian domestic airfares plunge to a 12-month low

by Steve Creedy and Geoffrey Thomas
July 19, 2021
Perth airport
Bring back the good old days - how it used to be.

Australian domestic airfares nosedived in July as the nation’s biggest city plunged into COVID chaos and ticket prices in all classes hit their lowest ebb in 12 months.

Business fares in July were less than half the level enjoyed by carriers in 2003 and almost 42 percent down compared to the same month last year, according to the latest government figures.

Down, down – business class airfares take a plunge in July with other classes not far behind. Source: BITRE.

The Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) index shows best discount economy fares more than 32 percent lower than July 2021 and just over half benchmark levels set in 2003.

READ: Alarming survey highlights need to vaccinate aviation workers.

Restricted economy tickets fared best against the 2003 benchmark but were still a third lower than last year.

The falls during the normally lucrative school holiday season came as the COVID-19 Delta variant prompted a lockdown in the Greater Sydney region and other cities affecting millions of people.

It is another blow for Australian carriers dealing with an unpredictable market as they attempt to recover from the ravages of the pandemic and will be reflected in balance sheets.

The situation is now dire after lockdown restrictions in the greater Sydney were drastically tightened after the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian was forced to concede that weak measures introduced three weeks ago have failed to stop an outbreak of more than 1,000 cases.

The areas of the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong, and Shellharbour are also in the lockdown.

On Saturday 17th the state recorded 111 Covid-19 cases triggering the toughest restrictions yet implemented in New South Wales.

Only three days earlier on Thursday Ms. Berejiklian said that “whilst the case numbers are bouncing around, we are seeing a stabilisation. They’re not growing exponentially. That tells us that the settings that we have in place are having an impact.”

Travel between a number of Australian states has been restricted after community COVID cases were recently recorded in Queensland and Victoria.

Victoria is now in a five-day lockdown.

Australia has also throttled back further on international arrivals as a result of the outbreak.