Travel experts are encouraging prospective airline passengers to buy any planned summer airline tickets now, or as soon as possible, if they want to take advantage of cheap airplane tickets or cheap vacation packages.
Airfares are expected to continue to increase as chaos in the Middle East and rising demand for heating oil drive up oil prices. Jet fuel prices are already almost 50 percent more now than last summer.
To offset oil price increases this year, airlines need to increase their revenues by 10 percent this year by a combination of raising their prices on airline tickets and, where possible, reducing their costs further, assuming oil prices remain constant going forward. If the price of oil continues to go up, the pressures on airlines to further increase prices will be strong.
Year to date, airlines have increased airfares five times on two thirds of their routes. On average domestic fares are up 8 percent this spring vs. last spring, with overseas flights 10 percent higher.
Airlines are making moves to reduce their expenses. For example, Delta is speeding up the replacement of its older, less fuel efficient, planes.
Airfares are often cheaper when purchased as part of a discount travel package, which includes a hotel reservation. Airlines are doing everything possible to fly full flights and often are more willing to discount their fares when they can be hidden within the price of a total travel package.
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By Steve Robinson