A study published this week has found that cheap flights to long-haul destinations are even cheaper than they were 25 years ago.
Researchers working for RDC Aviation examined the differences in prices between cheap fares, business fares and first class fares between 1985 and 2010 on the most frequently-flown long-haul routes. All prices took into account annual inflation rates in order to create a reasonable comparator.
They found that the average price of an economy class ticket now stood at £338 compared to £524 in 1985 – a 35 per cent reduction. During the same 25-year period, business class tickets increased in price by a whopping 120 per cent, while there was also a 54 per cent rise in the cost of first class tickets.
The biggest price rises were to be found on South Africa routes, where most had increased ticket prices by 7 per cent over inflation. In 1985, a business passenger to South Africa would have paid around £634, whereas today the cost has increased by 394 per cent over the years to £2,498.
In contrast, cheap flights to South Africa on economy class are now more numerous than ever, representing excellent value.
The survey was commissioned by Kelkoo, and managing director Chris Nixon said that “factors such as increased competition between airlines and the introduction of internet booking sites in the early 1990s” were among the reasons for the change in the distribution of air fares.
Mr Nixon added that the relative increases in the price of business and first class tickets could be seen as part and parcel of the need to subsidise cheap flights in economy class in order to maintain the viability of these routes, noting: “It’s one of the reasons we don’t see many long haul budget carriers.”