Cheap airfares will be available during 2010, but time may be running out for travellers chasing the cheapest international deals.
Australia’s leading travel agency group, Flight Centre Limited, has predicted gradual increases in international fares during 2010 if market conditions continue to improve.
Managing director Graham Turner said fares would, however, remain highly affordable by historic standards, following the deep discounting on international routes during 2009.
“From an overall pricing perspective, 2009 was probably as good as it could ever be for an international traveller,” Mr Turner said.
“Discounted fares were available on most routes and eye-catching special deals were being released almost daily, particularly to the UK and USA, as airlines sought to stimulate demand in a depressed market.
“As conditions have now started to stabilise and demand has returned to normal levels in some markets, fares should inevitably begin to rise.
“We will continue to see eye-catching special offers from time to time, particularly when a new airline enters a market, but we will not see the universal discounting we saw during 2009 if the economic recovery continues to gain momentum.
“Price increases are likely to be gradual while intense competition exists between the airlines.
“This means that fares will continue to be extremely affordable, particularly by historical standards.”
Qantas recently announced plans to increase fares by up to 5% on selected international routes from tomorrow (Thursday).
Mr Turner said world oil prices could also spark airfare price increases during 2010.
“The airfare discounting we saw during 2009 corresponded with an overall decrease in jet fuel prices.
“If fuel prices increase, as they have done recently, airfare prices will are certain to follow.
“Airfare price increases are likely to be more transparent than they have been in recent years, as airlines have started to move away from the trend of increasing fuel surcharges rather than base fare prices.”
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