When will international airfares return to pre-pandemic levels? [Southeast Asian routes are still high in North America with "cabbage prices"

Recently, international air ticket prices have shown a trend of differentiation: on the one hand, Southeast Asian air tickets have reappeared "cabbage prices", and air tickets to Northeast Asia such as South Korea and Japan and Australia and New Zealand have also dropped a lot; On the one hand, direct flight tickets in North America are still as high as about 10,000 yuan. Why do international air fares vary so much? When will intercontinental routes such as North America return to pre-pandemic levels? Civil aviation experts in the industry explained that international flights are in a period of rapid recovery, and the North American market is limited by the shortage of capacity, resulting in high fares. In view of this, passengers in need can pay more attention to and plan transit routes in third countries, and strive to buy more affordable air tickets.

Big difference

Recently, Southeast Asian air tickets have shown a downward trend

Direct flight tickets in the North American market are as high as 10,000 yuan

Entering the summer and autumn sailing season, the ticket prices of many outbound destinations have "plunged". In April and May, air ticket prices for many Southeast Asian destinations showed a downward trend, and some platforms even saw a low price of about 4 yuan for direct flights to Singapore. Airfares to Japan, the United Kingdom and other countries have also dropped significantly.

The 28 domestic airlines plan to arrange 6772,1435 international scheduled passenger flights per week, of which the capacity in Southeast Asia has recovered faster. According to Ctrip's data, cross-border air ticket prices in Southeast Asia fell the most, with the average price of domestic one-way air tickets to Southeast Asia this week being RMB2,22 including tax, down 1707% from the same period in February, and the average price of one-way air tickets from Southeast Asia inward including tax was RMB7,<>, down <>% month-on-month.

Qunar's data shows that airfares for destinations led by Singapore have fallen significantly. In April and May, the price of direct tax-inclusive air tickets from Guangzhou, Nanning and Haikou to Singapore was as low as about 4 yuan, and the round-trip was about 5,500 yuan, down 1200% from the beginning of February.

Recently, Xiao Wang, who searched for a return ticket from the United States, found that a one-way direct flight ticket from Los Angeles to Beijing is still more than 1,1 yuan, and the price of a flight with a transfer is also 8000,9000-<>,<> yuan.

Xiao Meng, an international student, has been brushing air tickets in recent weeks, she told the Beiqing News reporter that the lowest fare for 3 transfers from Chicago to Beijing is 7182 yuan, and it takes 30 hours on the road, and she has to read various strategies to avoid visa problems when transferring. Her other Chinese classmates plan to stay in the country to study or move to Europe to not return home for the time being.


Passenger traffic increased significantly in the first quarter

International passenger flights continued to increase steadily

On April 4, the latest data released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) shows that since accepting applications from Chinese and foreign airlines to resume and increase international passenger flights on January 18, international passenger flights have maintained a steady increase, especially the change of season in the summer and autumn of 1 has further accelerated the recovery of international flights. From the actual implementation of international passenger flights, the actual number of international passenger flights in the week from April 8 to April 2023 has reached 4,10 flights (each round trip is counted as one flight), which is 4.16 times that of the week before the implementation of "Class B tube" (January 2242 to January 1), recovering to 1.2% of the pre-epidemic level, and 1 countries have been opened, recovering to 8% of the pre-epidemic level. Among them, the Chinese company implemented 4.7 classes, accounting for 29.4%; Foreign airlines carried out 59.82 classes, accounting for 1379.5%. From the perspective of countries, the top 61 flights to China are Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, and the growth rate of flights in the surrounding traditional markets is obvious.

In the first quarter, international routes completed 224.2 million passenger passengers, a year-on-year increase of 717.0%, equivalent to 2019.12% of the same period in 4. As international passenger flights continue to recover, passenger traffic on international routes has recovered to 3.18% of pre-pandemic levels in March.

In the next step, the Civil Aviation Administration of China will continue to timely approve the applications of Chinese and foreign airlines for the addition and resumption of international flights, assist in solving the difficulties and problems encountered by airlines in the process of resuming international flights, and ensure the smooth and orderly resumption of international passenger flights.

Look to the future

The capacity to travel to Europe in the summer may increase significantly

Travelers will gradually regain their diversification

The reporter of Beijing Youth Daily learned from major airlines that airlines have resumed or opened a number of new international routes, and the capacity to Europe in the summer may increase significantly. In the new spring and summer season, Air China's Italy routes will significantly increase capacity, Beijing-Rome and Shanghai-Milan routes will resume, and other routes from many cities to Italy will continue to increase. In Southeast Asia, Air China has resumed Beijing-Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing-Yangon, Beijing-Chiang Mai, and Beijing-Phnom Penh routes. In addition, Air China launched the first scheduled long-haul international route to Kazakhstan, namely the Xi'an-Astana route. Air China's flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu to Frankfurt in Germany have been increased again.

According to data released by China Eastern Airlines, in terms of international routes, popular destinations are mainly concentrated in Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Osaka, Tokyo, Sydney and other places. Since mid-to-late April, China Eastern Airlines has also added a number of new international routes in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, Kunming and other places, including Shanghai-Yangon, Kunming-Singapore and other routes, with about 4 new flights expected per week. During the May Day holiday, China Eastern Airlines will add Nanjing-Phuket and Xi'an-Phuket routes. China Eastern Airlines and its subsidiaries operated 44 flights between the Mainland and Hong Kong.

The relevant person in charge of China Southern Airlines introduced that after three years of the epidemic, the international tourism market is in the stage of normal opening and gradual recovery. China Southern Airlines launched routes from Guangzhou to Bali, Sabah and Chiang Mai during May Day, as well as major domestic cities such as Shanghai to Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul, and encrypted flights to Singapore and Bangkok. At the same time, China Southern Airlines has launched new European travel routes from Beijing Daxing to Moscow, Amsterdam and Istanbul.

Hainan Airlines has accelerated the recovery of international and regional routes, increased capacity investment in popular routes, and will open and resume operation of international routes such as Shenzhen-Paris, Beijing-Osaka and Beijing-Tokyo during the May Day period.

Xie Zihe, head of Qunar's international air ticket, said that after the "Class B and B management" policy, the group of travelers will gradually return to the diversification before the epidemic. First of all, the group of overseas Chinese students and relatives visiting relatives, after the recovery of transportation capacity and the decline of ticket price level, the willingness to travel will be further released; Secondly, after the gradual liberalization of epidemic prevention policies, the backlog of exhibitions and business activities will increase significantly, in order to restore the vitality of global trade and finance as soon as possible; The last part is the tourist group, the epidemic has been intermittent for more than three years, the domestic tourism internal circulation has been fully developed, and the demand for outbound tourism will have an outbreak in the short term, but it is limited by the long-term epidemic period during the tourist income has been affected to varying degrees.

This group of text/reporter Lin Lishuang co-ordinator/Yu Meiying Photo courtesy of Visual China

Expert analysis

European routes are expected to return roughly to pre-pandemic levels in the first half of next year

Lin Zhijie, a civil aviation expert, said in an interview with a reporter from Beiqing News: From the current situation, the changes in international flights mainly show three main characteristics: First, from the perspective of the progress of recovery, the recovery speed of international flights is much slower than that of domestic flights. The latest data shows that domestic flight volume has recovered to 2019%-110% of 120 levels; International flight volume recovered to around 2019% of the same period in 35.

Secondly, from the average ticket price of international flights, I think there is no way to directly and simply compare with pre-epidemic fares. The structure of international routes has changed significantly, and the proportion of long-distance intercontinental routes has decreased significantly, while the proportion of short-haul routes such as Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia has increased. The fuel surcharge is also different, and the international oil price is now 2019,2000 yuan / ton higher than in <>.

Third, with the increase in the number of international flights, international ticket prices will definitely gradually fall in the future. Now that the entire international flight is recovering rapidly, ticket prices depend mainly on passenger demand and the recovery of flight volume.

As for when will the European route return to normal levels? Lin Zhijie analyzed that "overall, it is difficult to recover 100% before the end of the year." On the whole, due to the uncertainty in the international aviation market, but with the continuous relaxation of visa policies and the stabilization of the epidemic, I personally predict that it will recover to about 8% by the end of this year. European routes are expected to return roughly to pre-pandemic levels in the first half of next year. ”

Since the number of routes to the United States has not increased compared with the epidemic, the ticket price is still at a high level. In response to the question of how to buy cheaper intercontinental air tickets, Lin Zhijie suggested that travelers can plan more transit routes in third countries, which may be more affordable.