Domestic travel: expect to pay less from 2023

Local and international travel has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride since Covid travel restrictions were lifted earlier this year. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), total traffic is now at 68.7% of pre-crisis levels. But as travel has increased, so have airfares.

A recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) report prices are expected to rise by up to 48.5% in 2022. The main contributing factors include rising jet fuel prices, post-Covid labour shortages, reduced inventory, geopolitical uncertainties, and inflationary pressures in raw material costs are pushing costs higher. Following an increase of 48.5% in 2022, prices are expected to rise 8.4% in 2023.

In Africa, the operating environment for airlines is the greatest barrier to ensuring affordable regional air connectivity. According to the CEO of Airlink, Rodger Foster, “The airport taxes and other regulatory costs, plus fuel and infrastructure charges, do need to be looked at to ensure that long-term sustainability and elasticity that is crucial to carriers’ survival,” he said.

Locally, only four of the eight domestic airlines that were in operation pre-Covid-19 are still operating: FlySafair, Lift, CemAir and Airlink. The number of airline seats in South Africa went from 1,6m in January 2020 to 900 000 in May 2022. With domestic demand outpacing supply and fuel prices surging, the average cost of a flight ticket in South Africa has become only incredibly pricy. In fact, according to our statistics, the cost of airfares on the popular Johannesburg/ Durban/ Cape Town triangle route has increased by almost 50% from January – September 2021 vs 2022.

And, while after two years of minimal to no expenditure, business travellers seem to be willing to spend more on tickets, for now, this all appears to be a thing of the past soon. Airlines are increasing their capacity for the anticipated holiday season and South Africans planning to travel locally next year are increasingly likely to find flight costs decreasing as seat capacity increases.

According to Kirby Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer of FlySafair, “We expect that airfares will really normalise in late January to early February. This will be a product of a natural lull in seasonal demand and, more significantly, an increase in the number of seats available in the market.” 

So, while passengers can expect to pay less for flights soon, the trick is still to make the most of these declining costs and book well in advance where possible.