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Why it may cost you the earth to travel right now

The price of flights from Malta has increased more than usual at this time of year due to growing travel demand and reduced flight and seat availability.

Malta International Airport has confirmed that the number of routes has fallen by 22% from pre-pandemic levels and that airline seat capacity for the summer is 80% compared to 2019, bringing Malta with figures for 2015 and 2016.

The airport should offer 98 lines this summer compared to 125 in 2019.

By the time the island eased its COVID travel restrictions in the spring, most airlines had already secured their summer schedules and the result is a loss of 66 connections “completely”, as well as frequencies lost on 46 connections , said the airport.

The national carrier, Air Malta, has awarded higher on-demand prices due to high season post-COVID travel.

Travel agents also point to declining availability and frequency of high seat prices.

Travel agent Georges Bonello DuPuis confirmed that flights were “very expensive” at the moment.

He attributed it to their “minimal availability and frequency” coupled with the end of school, the start of summer and a post-pandemic rush to travel after such a long hiatus for many.

While it was normal for prices to increase at this time of year – as they did during the mid-term holidays, for example – Bonello DuPuis maintained that airfares were slightly more expensive than from usual this summer due to the reduced number of scheduled flights.

Cheap fares were ‘all gone today’ – and anyone wanting to fly could have to pay anything in the region of €500 and more. Economy flights to popular destinations throughout the summer are now “few and far between”.

Seats are currently not even available in full-fare business class to popular destinations including Germany, the UK and Paris, Bonello DuPuis said.

However, the situation will soon stabilize, he added.

“There is massive demand and fewer seats as fewer planes come in and out and more people travel,” the veteran travel agent said.

Destinations like Italy, and particularly Rome, weren’t as impacted by availability as they were served by three carriers daily, he added.

There is massive demand and fewer seats as fewer planes come in and out and more people travel

But Emirates, for example, had only two weekly flights left and was only now starting to increase frequency, going up to five times a week in July and August.

Flights to London have decreased in frequency, with more daily flights to Gatwick on Air Malta. Anyone wishing to travel on the national carrier to the UK capital on June 23, for example, would have found a spare seat at Heathrow and one at Gatwick – at a staggering price of €409.53 one-way – and no luggage.

On June 29, there were “no” seats available for London except for €409 one-way. On July 3, there were two seats left at Gatwick at the time of writing – and these come down to €189.53 one way.

Random checks have shown that on July 24, for example, cheaper seats are available as things begin to stabilize in mid-summer when some sort of “normality” resumes, Bonello DuPuis said.

At €99.53 you can get to Gatwick – but not home – with Air Malta, but you’ll need to add an extra €20 if you want to take personal effects with you.

Air Malta said last week it was hiring an additional plane to meet travel demand, although it gave no details on destinations.

Bonello DuPuis pointed out that places like Bari and Brindisi could still be reached without breaking the bank, but that was a different story for popular destinations like Marseille for a trip to the south of France.

“Just the other day I tried to book a flight to Bergamo on Ryanair for a family of two adults and two children, with just two suitcases, for the end of June. The ‘low-cost’ flight brought in 1,300 €.

“But if they leave two weeks later, you could find a flight for €24,” continued Bonello DuPuis.

High prices explained

He explained that the high prices – in the range of €400 to €600 – have always existed and that it depended on when the tickets were purchased.

“If you’re trying to book a flight that no one is thinking of, say in February, it could be as cheap as €60, but you could also pay €600 for a fully refundable full-fare business class ticket on the scheduled carrier. air.

“Low-cost flights always start low but go up every time you look again. It’s a different price every day,” he said.

“You have to shop around, and a date can make all the difference in travel prices,” Bonello DuPuis advised, reminding travelers of the trends that dictate pricing and to anticipate.

That said, the round-trip plane ticket from London bought a month ago for a trip as far away as October cost £560 return on British Airways, he said pointing to the holiday mid-term. In November, the same trip could cost half the price.

Explaining its flight fares, Air Malta said it constantly reviews them based on demand, supply, competition and other factors, saying this could result in fares rising or falling.

“Nor is there a fixed equation for applying the same levels of fare cuts or increases on all routes at the same time because, again, market circumstances often differ from market to market. the other,” the airline said.

“In the coming months, coming out of COVID-19 and being the peak travel period of July and August, when demand often exceeds supply, one would expect prices to be higher than in the later off-peak quieter months of the year when travel demand is less and airfares are understandably lower.

Budget airline Ryanair said a number of performance and pricing factors dictate its airfares, those for the most ‘imminent’ flights – with the highest demand and during the peak summer holiday season – being higher for these reasons.

Insisting that it offered “consistently low fares and great choice on its Maltese routes across Europe”, with more than 700,000 flights – 130 million seats – on sale at any one time, he cited sample trips from Malta to Rome and London Stansted this summer, available for €19.99 and €62.99 respectively.

Ryanair said it has maintained its “current” teams throughout COVID-19, enabling it to meet pent-up customer demand.

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