Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Air Fares to Take off after Years of Cuts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Air Fares to Take off after Years of Cuts

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN

PRICE wars between no-frills airlines have slashed the cost of flights by up to 80 per cent in the past decade, new figures show today.

However, experts predict the low prices are unsustainable - and warn of an imminent "bloodbath" in the aviation industry.

They warn soaring fuel costs will start pushing fares back up within months, and advise consumers to take advantage of rockbottom prices while they last.

An official Department of Trade and Industry report, comparing airfares in 1992 and last year, explains the huge growth in the short-break market. The average Briton now takes more than five trips a year, many of them to European cities.

Back in 1992 the cheapest return flight on the London-Nice route was [pounds sterling]188.

Just over a decade later the price has plummeted to [pounds sterling]36. Likewise, flights to Paris and Milan have fallen by 75 per cent.

While 12 years ago it cost [pounds sterling]248 to fly to Milan, the cost is now [pounds sterling]62.

Overall, across all European destinations from London, the cheapest available fares have dropped by an astonishing 66 per cent on average, with the bulk of the reduction coming in the past five years.

An Evening Standard survey of airfares shows that flights to France, Italy and Spain are currently on sale from as little as 49p one-way.

Even with taxes and surcharges, return flights to airports up to 1,000 miles from London can be snapped up for just [pounds sterling]30.

"Passengers have undoubtedly never had it so good," said Simon Evans, chief executive of the Air Transport Users Council.

"But airlines will start edging fares up if they find themselves saddled with a long-term increase in fuel prices and inflation starts to pick up."

Luiz Moutinho, professor of business and management at Glasgow University, said: "You are not talking about a return to the bad old days when European flights cost [pounds sterling]200 or [pounds sterling]300 - the market will not allow that - but prices will go up. …

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