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Air France, Lufthansa, Ryanair: why discount flight tickets are over

Prices are set to keep rising. We look at how to save some money on fares

Plane ticket fares are rising as a result of several different factors Pic: Emmanuel Nalli / Shutterstock

People booking plane tickets in France and across Europe are likely to notice that prices have increased, and Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has warned that this trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future. 

“There is no doubt that our lowest prices – €0.99 or €9.99 – you will not see anymore for the next few years.” 

There are several reasons behind the rise in prices, which is not just affecting low-cost airlines like Ryanair. 

Air France tickets now cost around €20 more for a return medium-haul economy flight, and €160 more for a long-haul flight, in comparison to 2021.

Lufthansa group CEO Carsten Spohr has commented: “Tickets sold for less than €20 were irresponsible. The industry would have needed higher prices to fund more significant investment and be more resilient in the face of shocks like the pandemic.”  

France’s Direction générale de l’aviation civile has stated that overall, the price of flights departing from France rose by 20.4% over the year to September, and is now 21% higher than in September 2019.

The biggest price increase can be seen in medium-haul services (+23.6%) around Europe, while long-haul flights are not generally as severely impacted (+13%). 

One exception to this rule is a return flight between Paris and Shanghai, whose price has doubled over three years to €1,800. This is partly because of China’s zero-Covid policy, which has reduced the number of flights running, and also the war in Ukraine, which means that planes cannot currently travel over Siberia, and must take a longer detour. 

Costs increase with inflation 

All airlines are also seeing increased costs with regards to kerosene fuel, which has become more expensive due to the conflict in Ukraine and now represents 20-25% of the cost of running a flight. 

Kerosene prices peaked at $1,200 in mid-March, but have dipped back down to $1,000 now. However, this price is still much more expensive than it was at the beginning of 2022 ($600).

Airlines have also seen a general rise in costs because of the high inflation rates affecting markets across the world. 

In addition, companies have often had to increase their salary offers in order to attract new staff after Covid-related redundancies. 

Climate change will make tickets more expensive

The International Air Transport Association (Iata), which represents 180 airlines, has committed to making plane travel carbon neutral by 2050, which means that airlines will have to be able to access sustainable fuel. 

It is thought that the most significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will come through the use of ‘green kerosene’, which is four to eight times more expensive than the substance used today.

This cost will at least in part be passed on to customers. 

“The energy and ecological transition must be funded not only by airlines or energy companies but also by the whole chain, including customers,” TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné said in May 2021. 

Air France has already introduced a fuel surcharge amount to €1-€12, depending on the type of ticket chosen and the length of the flight. 

This will increase as the proportion of sustainable fuel airlines are required to use by French law increases to 2% in 2025 and 5% in 2030.

How can I save money on air fares?

If you are looking to save some money on flights, it may be worth booking a package through a travel agent, which can slightly reduce the amount you pay. If not, you can also compare prices using flight search engines.

You should also shop around to see if prices vary between different airports. If there is a big difference, the saving may be worth the longer drive or train journey. 

It also goes without saying that travelling in the off-season, outside of school holidays, is normally less expensive, but it is also often the case that different days of the week prove to be cheaper than others. 

If you are booking online and you have already searched for flights or been on the airline websites previously, it may be helpful to open an incognito window – by clicking the three dots in the top right of the screen, and then ‘New Incognito Window’ in Chrome. This gets rid of cookies and so stops the airline website from tracking your searches and potentially increasing their prices in response. 

Finally, on budget airlines you can often save a lot of money by not adding check-in luggage, or even a carry-on cabin case, to your booking. If you are only going away for a couple of days, you may be able to fit everything you need in the smaller bag allowed under your seat, but you should check the permitted dimensions before you travel so as to avoid being penalised.

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