Not too late for cheap Easter airfares despite price hikes

Flights from Sydney or Melbourne to popular domestic destinations are lower than the historic highs of late last year, however, those looking for a getaway this Easter can still expect to pay more than they would have pre-pandemic.

Figures from travel website KAYAK show Sydney and the Gold Coast to be the most affordable among the most searched routes by Melburnians. Sydney is the cheapest return economy route for Melburnians for travel in April, at $230, followed by the Gold Coast at $342 and Brisbane at $360.

Airfares are higher than before the pandemic, but flexibility on routes and times of travel can result in savings for those looking to get away this EasterCredit:Chris Hopkins

Brisbane and Melbourne are the most affordable routes popular with Sydneysiders at this time of year. A Sydney to Brisbane return economy fare of $225 is the cheapest among the five most searched routes for Sydneysiders for travel during April, followed by Melbourne at $246 and the Gold Coast at $263.

The estimates of fares are based on flight searches made on KAYAK and associated brands in the three months to March 9, 2023, for travel from Sydney and Melbourne airports in April.

Nicola Carmichael, KAYAK brand director, says with Easter almost here it is no surprise flights departing between April 6 and 8 look to be the busiest and most expensive travel days.

Carmichael says travelling during the last week in April could save up to $150 on the typical domestic economy return fare instead of travelling during the Easter long weekend.

For those whose travel dates are flexible, putting off travel until May offers even better value with the average return economy domestic flights for popular destinations from Sydney and Melbourne generally cheaper, Carmichael says.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) in its latest quarterly report on domestic airfares says domestic capacity in January this year was almost 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The consumer watchdog says jet fuel prices had fallen 35 per cent at the end of February, after accounting for inflation, after peaking in mid-2022 due to the war in Ukraine. Jet fuel is a large part of airlines’ costs.

“The price of jet fuel has been trending down, which should enable airlines to reduce airfares further in coming months,” says ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey.

Those who live in the regions will benefit from the entry of budget carrier Bonza earlier this year. It mostly operates on previously unserved routes that connect regional centres to holiday destinations, allowing direct travel without needing to go through a major city.

The entry of the budget airline could help put pressure on the major airlines to cut fares on routes across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, where it operates. The airline is adding flights to and from Melbourne, with some routes available to travel for Easter.

Prospective flyers should also check on any unused credit they have with airlines. Qantas Group is sitting on $800 million of unused COVID domestic and international travel credits that are set to expire on December 31.

The airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce said in February the airline is encouraging customers to use travel credits via reminder emails, a dedicated phone line, and sales promotions.

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