Australians to face sky-high airfares this Christmas as Qantas threatens to kill | News Australia

Australians face a chaotic and expensive end-of-year travel season, with record high domestic prices and the threat of further industrial action Qantas the flight attendants come to a crescendo at Christmas.

After several months of higher-than-average domestic airfares, travelers looking to book the cheapest available domestic airfares are facing prices not seen since March 2004, according to Airfare Price Indexes maintained by the Transportation Economics and Infrastructure Research Bureau.

The cheapest ticket from Melbourne to Sydney in December is $268, while the cheapest from Perth to Sydney is $751 and from Alice Springs to Sydney is $959 in the same month. according to the latest data from a government agency.

BITRE data focuses on the cheapest fares available. A cursory search for flights shows that airlines charge hundreds more than average fares in many places in December. In the second week of December, Sydney-Melbourne round-trip fares on budget carriers on the traditionally unfavorable early and late curfew days at Sydney Airport average $500.

International airfares to and from Australia also skyrocket ahead of the new year.

According to flight booking website Kayak.com, fares for economy tickets to London from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in December average $3,000, $2,641 and $2,250 respectively. Prices from Brisbane to London are 73% higher than the same period in 2019.

New Delhi, Kathmandu, Bali, Bangkok and Manila are the other most sought-after international destinations this Christmas period. Figures suggest December 23 will be the busiest day at Australian airports over the festive season.

Nicola Carmichael, Kayak’s brand director, said booking data suggests record high airfares are not deterring travelers from both interstate and international travel.

“Those hoping for smooth sailing to their destination may prefer to depart a little earlier or later [than the 23 December peak]” Carmichael said.

“Avoiding peak travel dates can also help travelers secure the best possible fare, and we recommend setting up price alerts for your chosen destination to ensure a good price for your holiday.”

The record high airfares are driven by a combination of factors, including the slow recovery of the aviation workforce due to Covid, staff illness, high fuel prices and pent-up demand for travel at a time when airlines are operating fewer flights than before the pandemic began.

Geoff Culbert, chief executive of Sydney Airport, said among the many reasons for high airfares, such as fuel prices, “supply is also clearly a problem”.

The number of seats on offer on the Sydney-Melbourne route in October was 76% of pre-COVID levels for the same month and 80% on all other domestic routes. In October, the number of international seats at Sydney Airport was 58% of pre-COVID levels.

Another factor affecting prices is the imbalance in demand for international flights. The ratio of Australians going abroad to foreign tourists coming in is currently 65:35, compared to 52:48 before COVID.

“People are talking about airfares, and there’s definitely sticker shock, and if that takes hold, it could stop the recovery,” Culbert said.

Meanwhile, the Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) announced on Thursday that its domestic Qantas flight attendant members had voted to support protests in response to the airline’s pay offer – with the union pledging to take a “considered approach” to minimize disruption over Christmas.

Qantas has proposed four-year pay deals that include immediate pay rises, back pay and a 3% pay rise each year. However, two cohorts of Qantas’ domestic flight attendants, who work for separate subsidiaries, currently have pay deals that expire in August 2018 and January 2020, meaning the offers are effectively six and eight years long.

No new pay deals have been struck during Covid – when Qantas has had a two-year company-wide pay freeze in place. Acceptance of the deal for union members will mean their dues and future wages will be affected because the 3% pay rise will be calculated on wages that have been frozen for two years.

The proposal also calls for increasing shift length as a requirement for working new Airbus planes and reducing crew rest periods between shifts when they are away from home to 10 hours – something Qantas says is in line with agreements with other airlines.

Terri O’Toole, FAAA’s federal secretary, said the crew were being asked to work longer hours, accept lower real wages in light of inflation above 7%, and were being “punished” with a pandemic wage freeze at the same time Qantas is doing earnings are higher than expected. Qantas announced on Wednesday that its first-half financial year profit range increased by $150 million, above expectations, to $1.45 billion.

O’Toole said domestic flight attendants at one of the subsidiaries involved in the strike earn about $48,000 a year, contradicting comments by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce earlier this year that the average airline employee earns more than $100,000.

“The crew have been working through the pandemic, dealing with disgruntled passengers with baggage issues, canceled flights and all of Qantas’ issues, they’ve felt the brunt of it and that’s no way to treat your loyal staff,” O’Toole said.

Qantas hit back at the FAAA on Thursday, calling the threat of take-out action “very disappointing” and calling the comments about the proposed deal “simply wrong”. Qantas is offering members who sign up for the proposed deals a $5,000 bonus as well as 5,000 shares in the company.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/25/australians-to-face-sky-high-air-fares-over-christmas-as-threat-of-industrial-action-at-qantas-looms Australians to face sky-high airfares this Christmas as Qantas threatens to kill | News Australia

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