This is why plane fares could double after coronavirus lockdown

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

The Telegraph understands ticket prices are set to surge because once non-essential foreign travel is once again allowed, aircraft carriers are likely to be barred from fully filling planes.

This is in order to ensure passengers keep a safe distance from each other while onboard.   Last night an industry source said it is expected that aircraft carriers will be given social distancing guidance, which they will be asked to enforce for passengers.

It would temporarily bar plane companies 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 £5 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, which could last months.”

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


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

It comes as airlines are coming under fire over failing to provide refunds to passengers whose trips have been cancelled due to coronavirus. This newspaper has heard from hundreds of readers desperate for their money back, and who feel they have received appalling treatment from firms.

Consumer Champion, Which? yesterday warned British Airways is telling customers to call for a refund, only for them to then be told by an automated recording that the airline cannot take their call.

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “While we appreciate the immense strain airline customer services are under right now, this is massively unhelpful of BA.

“Passengers, many who will be thousands of pounds out of pocket as a result of their holidays being cancelled, deserve to know if and when their airline will refund them, so BA should establish a functioning means for claiming a refund online rather than directing frustrated customers to its already overwhelmed call centre.”

However, with the majority of planes currently grounded and thousands of customers claiming refunds, the airline industry is fighting for survival. In March the chief executive of British Airways warned staff that it was “under immense pressure”.

Along with other major airlines including Virgin Atlantic, it has now furloughed staff on 80pc of their usual pay.










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