Runaway Airfare Inflation Is Starting To Cool Demand For Summer Travel, Data Suggests
Consumers spent $1 billion less on plane tickets in April than in March, according to a report from Adobe Digital Insights released yesterday. Amid rampant airfare inflation, it could be a sign that demand is cooling off right as we enter the busy travel season.
Airline fares rose a staggering 19% between March and April, driven by factors such as higher jet fuel prices and pent-up pandemic demand. In many cases, pilot shortages and other disruptions have led to a reduction in routes.
Currently, travelers are finding record highs for summer airfare, according to Hopper, the deal-finding site and app. The average roundtrip domestic plane ticket this summer costs $383 — 34% more than in pre-pandemic 2019. A roundtrip international ticket has hit $900 — a 2% bump compared to 2019.
Consumers spent $7.8 billion on domestic tickets in April, according to the Adobe report, a 13% slide from March. Bookings are down 17% overall, according to the report.
Bookings of airline tickets in April were 5% higher than 2019 levels. Because of the significantly higher airfares, that translated to a spending jump of 23% over the same month in 2019. In March, bookings were 8% over March 2019 and spending was up 27% comparatively.
April is the third consecutive month where 2022 airfares have risen over pre-pandemic 2019 levels. In January 2022, prices were 3% lower than 2019 levels.
Adobe’s report suggests that airfare inflation has hit the point where it is now causing many consumers to back off of buying tickets.
“We see indications that some have chosen to delay their travel plans rather than to cancel them outright,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst with Adobe Digital Insights. “While bookings for Memorial Day are down, summer travel is above pre-pandemic levels.”
Meanwhile, Hopper says that summer airfares have not yet topped out. The company is forecasting that average prices will rise by 6% to 12% before peaking in late June. Hopper suggests that consumers begin monitoring prices now using its price monitoring tool to be notified in real-time if prices drop.