London Calling as Airfare Affordability Takes Off

Return flights to the United Kingdom now cost little more than the average Australian earns in a week.

Research by Flight Centre shows that fares to London are more affordable than ever, following the widespread airfare discounting of recent months and growth in average full-time wages.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released late last month, average full-time weekly earnings 9 seasonally adjusted) in Australia are now $1248.20, after increasing 4.6% during the past 12 months.

This increase corresponds with significant decreases in airfare prices, with return flights from Sydney to London falling to as little as $1250 during the height of the discounting.

While cheaper fares have been available, Flight Centre advertised return flights to London for $1092 from Perth, $1247 from Melbourne, $1389 from Sydney, $1395 from Adelaide and $1493 from Brisbane on the day the ABS figures were released.

“There is no doubt that 2009 has been a year for the travel bargain hunter,” Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner said.

“The combination of cheap international airfares and a strengthening Aussie dollar has delivered great savings to those taking off to the UK and USA in particular.

“In terms of overall affordability for the UK, there’s probably never been a better time to go.

“When commercial air travel took off in the 1950s, the price of a return fare to London typically represented six to seven months’ wages. By the 70s, the cost represented about three months’ pay.

“As recently as five years ago, the cheapest fare cost the equivalent of a week-and-a-half’s earnings.

“Now, we are down to one week’ earnings and that is without factoring in the benefits associated with a stronger Australian dollar.”

Based on current exchange rates, the stronger dollar means Australian budgeting to spend UK2000 pounds on a London holiday will save almost $AUD900, compared to one year ago.