A new cap on how many international arrivals may enter Australia each week has sent airfares through the roof with one industry body claiming that the prices of some one-way Economy Class tickets from London to Sydney could be the most expensive in history.
Analysis by Australian Aviation found that a trip one day after the reduced cap comes into effect on July 15 was being sold for more than $43,000 (USD $32,600). The 44-hour journey involved flying to Moldova and then connecting through Abu Dhabi to fly with Etihad Airways onto Sydney.
Although that is the most expensive airfare found so far, the analysis found that prices on the same route were regularly topping $30,000. One-way fares to Sydney from Paris also came in at $30,000, while fares from New York were as much as $20,000 and tickets from Tokyo cost as much as $15,000.
Last week, Australia’s federal government announced plans to slash the weekly passenger cap from 6,070 passengers to just 3,035 for the foreseeable future over fears that Australia’s hotel quarantine system can’t cope with the highly infectious Delta variant.
There are an estimated 35,000 stranded Australians still waiting to get home but travel industry groups say some airlines might be forced to suspend their services to Australia altogether because there is no chance of them breaking even with so few passengers allowed on each flight.
Barry Abrams, the executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia has denied that airlines that have continued to serve Australia throughout the pandemic are now price gouging, calling such accusations “insulting and bizarre”.
“It is going to be a very difficult situation for many airlines to maintain their frequency of flights to Australia,” Abrams told the Guardian.
“Many will be asking whether or not it makes more sense to suspend their passenger flights or just run cargo flights. I wouldn’t see it as cutting Australia off [but] I would see reduced connectivity and availability of flights to and from Australia.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.