Take f light and see the world at astonishing prices
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.