prices are rising and not about to fall

En France, les prix des vols au départ du territoire, pour tous les types de trajets, ont augmenté de 19,4% en mai par rapport au même mois de 2021, selon la Direction générale de l

Taking a plane will cost more and more, and it’s here to stay. While prices were relatively low during the two years of the health crisis, the lifting of most travel restrictions and the return of accompanying traffic are causing fares to rise sharply.

IATA: companies raise their heads but will remain heavily loss-making in 2022

In Europe as in the United States, the average price of journeys has indeed inflated for a year. In the United States, the average price of a domestic trip has exploded in six months, from 202 dollars in October 2021 to 336 dollars in May 2022, according to statistics from the branch of the Federal Reserve of Saint Louis. In the European Union, the average fare excluding taxes for a one-way ticket has started to rise again. After falling by more than 20% in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it returned in April to the level of the same month of 2019, according to data from Cirium, a company specializing in the study of the sector. In France, the prices of flights departing from the territory, for all types of journeys, increased by 19.4% in May compared to the same month of 2021, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

The causes are known: demand reinvigorated faster than expected, supply still constrained by organizational difficulties and labor shortages, unprecedented inflation for 40 years, fueled in particular by an oil shock accentuated by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia… On fuel, airlines expect to spend 24% of their costs this year, compared to 19% in 2021. And, while they have to rebuild their cash drained by the health crisis , they are forced to transfer these increases to customers.

Air transport: Willie Walsh (IATA) and Guillaume Faury (Airbus) optimistic about the strength of the recovery

However, this price increase does not seem to deter travellers. In the United States, for example, we don’t see a reduction in demand, and I don’t think we will “, assures the general manager of the American giant United Airlines, Scott Kirby. In fact, prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels. “En real terms, prices have returned to the level of 2014, and lower than before that time“, according to the CEO of United Airlines.

The end of the democratization of air transport?

But with the decarbonization of air transport, the cost of which will inevitably be passed on to ticket prices, this upward trend is likely to persist. For the participants of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), meeting at its annual general meeting in Doha, Qatar this week, the question is whether this increase in price will have consequences on access to this mode of transport, and to its ambitious growth plans.

Getting out of kerosene: the colossal but imperative challenge of aviation

Air transport has pledged to no longer contribute to global warming by 2050, while transporting 10 billion people per year compared to 4.5 billion in 2019. aviation fuels (SAF) which are currently two to four times more expensive than kerosene of fossil origin. And some governments are starting to make it mandatory to incorporate it in small quantities, which has already forced companies to impose surcharges. In this context, Iata urged to subsidize the production of SAF to reach 30 billion liters available in 2030 against 125 million in 2021, with the obsession to lower prices.

Iata estimates the total cost of the transition to “net zero emissions” at 1.550 billion dollars over 30 years. “Companies will not be able to absorb these cost increases (…), the transition will have to be passed on to ticket prices, and this could slow down part of the growth“Conceded Tuesday the director general of the organization, Willie Walsh. Enough to reverse the long-standing trend to democratize the sector. Even if going back on the access of the greatest number to air travel may be difficult.