South America as a destination is the sole exception to a five-year record high in international airfares, according to expert forecasts.
Booking and price analysis by Hopper’s Consumer Travel Index reveals air ticket prices are substantially higher than a year ago across markets worldwide, except for South American destinations.
1. Cheap US domestic flights
US holidaymakers vacationing in their home country and flying domestically within the US will be blessed with tickets at similar or cheaper prices than last year, thanks to increasing domestic capacity and a 40% drop in jet fuel costs.
2. Pent-up long-haul demand
Long-haul travel is a different picture, with return flights between the USA and Europe up 35% since 2022. Flights to Asia are 23% above last year’s fares, and 61% above 2021.
3. South America is bucking rising prices
With bottled-up demand being unleashed on Europe and Asia, anyone looking to fulfil long-awaited international travel plans will do well to look at the South American pins on their dream travel map.
Budget flights for the continent of Che Guevara, Machu Picchu, football and Mardi Gras are averaging 2% cheaper than last year and are 10% down on 2019’s prices.
What’s more, if forecasts of rising air fares over the summer months and dips in the autumn are correct, the timing could be just right for a trip to South America just as the southern hemisphere summer season starts.
4. What’s driving the pricing?
Stakeholders across the aviation sector, from Skyscanner to Amex, to CEOs from Quantas and Trip.com, have pointed at a complex web of post-Covid factors influencing pricing, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.
There is still a bottleneck on capacity, as airlines and airports re-recruit and retrain vital staff; Asia only started opening up again at the end of last year, so it is behind that curve (South America began re-opening in 2021). And the closure of Russian airspace since the invasion of Ukraine has required the re-routing of many flights, making them longer and costlier. The worst-affected routes are between Asia, North America and Europe.
As Amex GBT reported recently, “a flight from Tokyo to London which now has to head east over the North Pacific, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland has to add 2.4 hours of flight time and is likely to burn around 5,600 gallons more fuel, a 20% increase.”
With fuel costs up too, the implications of longer routes are clear: consumers will have to pay attention to avoid having price increases passed onto them.
5. How else can I get a good deal?
Keep an eye out for discounted prices and special offers: as interest in travel surges, so airlines are competing for customer loyalty.
As well as considering South America as a destination, it’s a good idea to be as flexible as possible on dates and book early if you can.
In the words of Skyscanner’s vice president of flights, Hugh Aitken, people should “still be able to find competitively priced flights, particularly if they can be flexible on when and where they go. In the current climate, the most straightforward way for travelers to find good deals is to book early.”