Hopper study: International airfares are way up

Airfares are sky-high for international travel as the summer season approaches. However, flyers are enjoying a bit of relief on domestic tickets compared to a year ago. 

Those are the key findings of Hopper’s latest Consumer Travel Index. The booking and price-predicting app tracks budget airfares, which it defines as fares that are lower than 90% of the fare quotes it tracks.

Currently, budget roundtrip fares to Europe are pricing at an average of $1,032, which is 35% higher than this time last year and up 24% from 2019. Fares between the U.S. and Asia have also risen and are 23% above last year’s level and a whopping 61% higher than 2019, Hopper economist Hayley Berg wrote. Prices are also up compared with last year, though to a lesser degree, for travel to other parts of the world. The lone exception is South America, where budget ticket prices are averaging 2% less than last year and 10% less than 2019. 

The pricing picture, however, is much better for consumers on the domestic front, and fares should remain below or similar to last year’s level through the summer, according to the Hopper forecast. 

At present, budget domestic roundtrip fares are averaging $286, down 15% from a year ago and 1% higher than 2019. Airfares will rise on a month-over-month basis through June, consistent with normal seasonal demand patterns, peaking at an average of $328, according to the Hopper forecast. Still, that price would be 10% below the 2022 June average. 

Budget fares will dip back to an average of $282 by September, with prices for that month coming in at 3% below last year, the forecast says. 

Pent-up demand and capacity levels that remain below 2019 are fueling the high prices for tickets to Europe and Asia. Domestic fares, conversely, are being reduced by capacity that exceeds 2019 by 7% as well jet fuel prices that have dropped 40% from a year ago, Berg wrote. 

The report also notes contrasting price trends between hotel and rental cars. Accommodations, Berg wrote, are averaging $216 per night, up 29% from last April. However, average car rental rates will be $38 per day this summer, down 21% from last year.

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