Airlines estimate that fuel prices will account for 24 per cent of their total costs this year. File photo
For members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), gathered in Doha for their annual meeting this week, minds are focused on how far such increases risk undermining passenger growth targets.
The IATA is also pleading for government support in reconciling the long-term commitment to net zero carbon emissions with those ambitious targets.
The aviation industry has just gone through two years where planes flew with rows of empty seats, even as they offered fares much lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic.
But with the sector still mired in the red despite movement restrictions being largely lifted, the bargain bonanza for passengers is very much over.
In the United States, the average price of an internal flight has shot up, from $202 in October 2021 to $336 in May this year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
In the European Union, the price of a return ticket before tax in April returned to that seen in the same month of 2019, after a near-20 percent fall in 2020, according to aviation research specialists Cirium.
The oil price shock stoked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the most obvious factor in these price rises.
Airlines estimate that fuel prices will account for 24 per cent of their total costs this year, up five percentage points from last year.
Ticket prices are also being stoked by wider inflation — now at 40-year-highs in developed markets — as well as stronger-than-expected demand for tickets and labour shortages.
"Airlines are resilient. People are flying in ever greater numbers. And cargo is performing well against a backdrop of growing economic uncertainty," IATA director-general Willie Walsh said in an upgraded industry forecast for 2022.
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Most airlines are considering downsizing their staff over the next 12 months due to the coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Wednesday, citing an internal survey.
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