Will European airfare become cheaper this summer or will prices increase – this is the most pressing question bantered about by “airfare experts” during the past few weeks.
Strong demand since the first of this year gave credence to those who maintained that airlines would raise prices to recoup some of their past year’s losses. But that was before the continuing disruption caused by the volcanic ash crisis, organized labor actions and economic crises that have plagued flights to Europe and wrecked havoc with planning for summer vacations.
London’s Centre for Economics and Business Research stated recently that airlines are likely to increase the cost of European airfare by more than $50 per round-trip ticket to offset their losses from the volcanic ash.
At the peak of the volcanic ash disruption, almost one-third of all flights globally were affected. Reuters reported on April 28 that the cost of canceled and delayed flights and booking changes to European airlines is estimated between $2 and $3.3 billion dollars.
Added to these costs, the price of oil has risen more than 75% for the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same period last year. The pressure is on the airlines to recoup their losses if demand for European airfare remains high over the peak summer travel season.
The question that hasn’t been addressed is whether demand will stay high. Cruise lines and tour operators are reporting record bookings for European travel and cruises this summer. Demand for airfare will be high – unless travelers became wary of the myriad issues and chose the safety of an alternate destination over the risk of being delayed due to ash, strikes or political unrest.
Our suggestion is to allow an extra day or two in Europe before joining a cruise or escorted tour. The cost of a few nights’ hotel accommodation is minimal compared to the peace of mind of arriving on time at your destination. Be sure to read travel insurance plans carefully before purchasing to ensure delays due to volcanic ash, insolvency and strikes are covered.
Don’t wait for a “last minute deal” if you find airline tickets to Europe that fit your budget. Purchase them now before prices increase closer to the summer season and reasonably priced European airfare becomes virtually impossible to find.