Will air fares double after the coronavirus pandemic?

17 April 2020

Customers may have to pay more to fly after the coronavirus lockdown lifts

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Airlines may have to increase fares after the coronavirus lockdown, with some sources suggesting these could double compared to the norm.

Widespread restrictions have been placed on travel as many countries banned international flights to try and curb the spread of coronavirus.

The UK Government advised citizens against all non-essential travel from 17 March.

Airlines have been hard hit by the crisis with many having to cut staff, reduce fares or cancel flights altogether.

Will airlines increase passenger fares?

The Telegraph reported that an industry source thinks flights could double in cost once normal travel resumes. 

Airlines were "likely to be barred from fully filling planes" in order to "ensure passengers keep a safe distance from each other while onboard" the anonymous source told the paper. 

Air fares would need to be "at least double to maintain pre-coronavirus profit margins," the paper says. 

Yesterday EasyJet said it would keep middle seats on its planes free to help with social distancing once the lockdown has been lifted.

Experts would not comment on the level of any increase, but say that the cost of flying after the coronavirus crisis will depend on a variety of factors including demand.

A spokesperson from the Tourism Alliance says:" It all comes down to supply and demand at this stage.

"There could be considerable time before there is “normal movement” of people between countries. No one is sure how many airlines will be around then and how willing people will be to travel."

But if there is a strong demand for flights, passengers could see an increase in the cost of flying.  

“Once flights can resume as normal, airlines may choose to increase fares if there is a strong demand,” says a spokesperson from the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

“If people are still reluctant to travel, they may decide to reduce prices to try and tempt customers into book a trip,” he says.

The time of year at which flights can resume will also have an impact on prices.

He continues: “some airlines may resume flight bookings as early as June if the lockdown is lifted before then.

“June is one of the peak summer months, therefore holiday bookings are likely to be more expensive during this time.”

Airlines who resume flights later in the year may offer cheaper flights as they will be running during the off-peak travel season.

Locking in your holiday booking fare

Many holidaymakers have had to cancel or reschedule trips as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It may be possible to beat a potential rise in air fares by changing your holiday booking to a later date.

“Rescheduling your booking instead of cancelling could help you avoid paying more if airlines increase prices,” the Abta spokesperson says.

It is important to note that changing your booking may impact your travel insurance policy, if you already have one in place.

Most travel insurance companies have cut back on cover due to coronavirus, meaning that your rescheduled trip may not be protected if the crisis continues and causes disruption to your trip.

Before deciding to rebook, check with your travel insurance provider to see if you will be covered.

For more information and advice check out our guide on coronavirus: what are your travel rights?

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