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Airfares down from 15-year high, but people still flying less than pre-pandemic



Plane tickets have eased from their 15-year highs, but are still well above pre-pandemic levels, new data released by consumer watchdog the ACCC reveals.

And while airlines have increased capacity on domestic routes, people are flying less than they did before the pandemic.

Airfares hit a 15-year high in December last year, but discount tickets dropped by a third in January.

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"While it's positive to see airfares fall from record highs in 2022, passengers are still generally paying more to fly today than they were before the pandemic," ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

"Airfares typically come down after the Christmas travel peak due to a seasonal decrease in demand, however some of this reduction is also explained by the airlines increasing their seat capacity."

The ACCC cited the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent jump in oil prices as a major cause of airfare rises.

Qantas flew at 102 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity, Virgin was at 96 per cent and Jetstar at 84 per cent.

Not showing up in the ACCC data is Bonza, which launched at the end of January with a series of unserved domestic routes.

Qantas accounted for 34.8 per cent of domestic passengers, while Virgin had 33.4 per cent.

Jetstar rose four points to 26.9 per cent.

Jetstar typically sees a rise in the January quarter, with more people travelling for pleasure than business. 

Regional airline Rex flew 4.9 per cent of domestic passengers.

The ACCC was tasked with monitoring the prices, costs and profits of the airline industry by then-treasurer Josh Frydenberg in June 2020.

The direction expires in June this year.

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