Take f light and see the world at as­ton­ish­ing prices

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Australia - MERRY KIRK­WOOD

A RE­CENT study by Flight Cen­tre re­veals sur­pris­ing ex­am­ples of how the price of in­ter­na­tional air travel has evolved. In to­day’s world, where costs rarely stay the same from week to week, air­fares, par­tic­u­larly to Lon­don, have re­mained re­mark­ably con­stant in dol­lar value and be­come, in real terms, much less ex­pen­sive over time.

In De­cem­ber 1947, a priv­i­leged 29 pas­sen­gers flew to Lon­don on Qantas’s first Lock­heed Con­stel­la­tion; the price of each ticket, the equiv­a­lent of $1170, rep­re­sented 85 weeks’ salary for the av­er­age worker of the times. Re­turn fares on this so-called Kan­ga­roo Route are now about $1800 for an econ­omy ticket (of­ten as lit­tle as $1300, de­pend­ing on sea­son and ad­vance-pur­chase deals), which is about 11/ weeks’ wage for most

2 Aus­tralians. What’s more, to­day’s typ­i­cal fare is the same as it was in 1981, de­spite in­fla­tion and the qua­dru­pling of av­er­age wages dur­ing that pe­riod.

Lower prices to other des­ti­na­tions are of­ten at­trib­ut­able to more competition on cer­tain routes, such as tran­sPa­cific; af­ter a dis­count­ing war when V Aus­tralia was launched, a re­turn fare to Los An­ge­les has sta­bilised at about 20 per cent cheaper than in 2004. Half the 30 in­ter­na­tional fares sur­veyed by Flight Cen­tre are still lower than the dis­counts of­fered dur­ing the re­cent global fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Fluc­tu­at­ing fuel sur­charges, a rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non, make pric­ing struc­tures fluid but the strength of our cur­rency means we have more money to spend in most des­ti­na­tions.

But not ev­ery­one’s a win­ner. Hous­ing costs, plus es­ca­lat­ing charges for util­i­ties, mean some would-be trav­ellers must re­as­sign hol­i­day sav­ings to­wards liv­ing ex­penses.

One group mak­ing good use of great-value fares is the stayat-home gen­er­a­tion whose par­ents hold on to large fam­ily homes while their un­en­cum­bered young adult chil­dren fly out of the nest on fre­quent hol­i­days.

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