Plane travel after coronavirus pandemic: Airfares could soar when lockdown is over

Airfares could double when lockdown is lifted, making foreign holidays temporarily unaffordable for many families.

When non-essential foreign travel is once again allowed, airlines are likely to be barred from filling planes fully. This is in order to ensure passengers keep a safe distance from each other while on board.

Last night, an industry source said it is expected that airlines will be given social-distancing guidance, which they will be expected to enforce on passengers. It would temporarily bar them from selling more than a certain proportion of available seats on any given flight, to ensure passengers are spaced apart.

If the guidelines state that companies can sell half of the seats on planes, for example, air fares would need to at least double to maintain pre-coronavirus profit margins.

An industry source told this newspaper: "After lockdown there will be a mad rush and a price surge for airline fares. It would be no surprise to see social distancing on planes, and we will probably see some set guidance on how planes should do this. There are currently cheap fares available, but this pricing is based on a full plane.

"The profit margin on a single seat is around $10 on average, so it is inevitable that ticket prices will have to go up to maintain this if only a proportion of seats are allowed to be sold.

"Airlines may also want to recoup losses from this period where they have been largely unable to fly. These new, inflated prices could stay high for as long as social distancing [is in place]."

It means holidaymakers planning to book travel for later this year could be faced with a dilemma; book now and run the risk of cancellation, or wait and find fares have risen significantly.

A price hike combined with many workers being furloughed, accepting pay cuts or being made redundant could temporarily push foreign holidays out of reach for lower and middle income families.

The Telegraph, London

See also: How much Australians will have to pay to get home on 'rescue' flights

See also: The five lessons every traveller must learn from the pandemic