The airline industry is taking a hit with airline fares rising 19 percent between March and April, led by factors such as higher jet fuel prices and more travelers flying post-pandemic, says a report from Adobe published on May 12.
Pilot shortages and increasingly random flight cancellations have also led to a reduction in service.
Surging demand, coupled with a 30 percent rise in aircraft fuel prices since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is sending airfares upward as the industry heads into the summer travel season.
Adobe’s data suggests that rising inflation has forced many consumers to back off from purchasing airline tickets.
“We see indications that some have chosen to delay their travel plans rather than to cancel them outright,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst with Adobe Digital Insights, reported Forbes.
“An uncertain economic environment is pushing some consumers to reorient their travel plans.”
U.S. airline bookings dropped 17 percent in April from the previous month, with commuter spending falling more than a billion dollars, in a sign that demand for air travel is cooling down as ticket prices surpass pre-pandemic levels.
Travelers spent $7.8 billion on domestic tickets in April, a decline of 13 percent from the $8.8 billion spent in March.
“While bookings for Memorial Day are down, summer travel is above pre-pandemic levels,” said Pandya.
Memorial Day weekend bookings declined 13 percent compared to 2019, but summer bookings between June and August, are already up 2 percent compared with 2019.
Although the airline industry has made good recoveries in recent months, the price of gas, appliances, food, and travel, have hit their highest rates on record since the early 198os.
Ticket costs in April 2022 were 27 percent higher than the same time in 2019 for the third consecutive month this year.
Prices in March were up 8 percent compared to two years earlier, while January prices were 3 percent lower than 2019 levels, but demand for domestic air travel still remained above 2019 levels, despite the slowdown.
April saw an increase in online spending on airline tickets up 23 percent over the same month in 2019, while bookings rose 5 percent, due to significantly higher airfares.
Adobe said that consumers have been shelling out “considerably more for the same amount of service,” because of the cost spikes.
The average roundtrip domestic plane ticket this summer will cost $383, or 34 percent more than 2019, while an average roundtrip international ticket will be $900, a 2 percent bump compared to two years earlier, according to Hopper, a travel discount service.
Hopper reported that summer airfares will likely continue to increase, with average prices forecasted to rise by 6 to 12 percent before peaking in late June.
The travel company informed consumers to frequently monitor prices through its website and app to see if ticket prices rise or drop.
Travel industry experts suggest that travelers who have not booked their summer vacations yet should lock in their tickets now, as the combination of booming demand, higher jet fuel prices, and continuing airline staff shortages will only drive up summer airfares further.