Cheap flights from Australia to Europe as travellers hesitate

Fancy a flight from Melbourne to Madrid and back in June, starting from just $1400? Sydney to Paris for $1350, leaving in early June and coming back in mid-July? Or what about Brisbane to Copenhagen at the same dates for around $1700?

All those prices are currently on offer from leading Middle East carriers. I can't remember economy flights to Europe being this cheap since the 1980s, and then only when they were on special.

So why are flights so cheap at the moment?

"Obviously there's still a lot of hesitation among travellers looking to book overseas flights, so there's a fair bit of availability," according to Kelly Spencer, general manager of Flight Centre Australia.

"A lot of carriers on Europe routes have committed to a certain number of flights, they need to fill those seats and that means there are some really good prices around to entice people on board."

"That doesn't apply to every destination. For example there are a lot fewer carriers flying to the USA than to Europe so there's not such an oversupply of seats and therefore fares on those routes aren't as competitive."

How long are these fares likely to last?

"Probably only as long as demand is soft," says Ms Spencer. "In November we saw sales increase threefold or fourfold in a matter of weeks when travel restrictions started to relax, and airfares increased. The same will happen once COVID infections drop and confidence returns."

For anyone thinking of a mid-year trip to Europe, is it advisable to lock in the booking now?

"Absolutely," according to Ms Spencer. "As soon as confidence and clarity return we expect to see a real spike in demand, and those cheap seats will disappear.

"For anyone worried about what might happen to their booking if they're forced to cancel or delay their trip, it's important to understand the terms and conditions of their ticket. Some will be fully refundable, some will be eligible for a credit.

"That's the beauty of booking through a Flight Centre agent, they can walk customers through the terms and conditions and make sure they're totally happy with what they're buying."