Surprising airline to thank for cheaper flights

Despite on-again off-again lockdowns around the nation, domestic air travel is cheaper than ever as the airlines bid for Aussies attention.

And it’s budget airline Rex that has been driving the price wars, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“Prior to the recent Victorian outbreaks, the domestic airline industry had experienced relatively fewer and less significant disruptions for a number of months, and the combination of cheaper airfares and growing consumer confidence to travel interstate was critical to the recovery,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

Rex has expanded its capital city reach and from this week will be operating six routes connecting Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Canberra.

In response to Rex’s promotional entry airfares across the new routes, Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin have been running competitive sales that have put downward pressure on prices, Sims said.

Consumers flying Sydney–Canberra may benefit the most as Qantas had been the only operator on the route since Virgin withdrew its service in March 2020.

“The impact of increased competition can be seen on all of Rex’s new intercity routes, including Sydney–Melbourne where airfares fell to their lowest level in a decade following Rex’s entry,” Sims said.

But despite the ACCC saying Rex has been heating up the price war, the airline has publicly raised concerns that its rivals have been increasing capacity beyond passenger demand.

The ACCC said it is assessing the impact on competition of expanding capacity and discounting airfares on certain routes.

“Increasing capacity to meet demand and offering discounted fares is generally a sign of competition and is good for consumers,” Sims said.

“However, the ACCC will consider taking enforcement action if capacity and pricing decisions materially damage competition, including by preventing rivals from competing effectively, or driving a competitor off a route or out of business.”

How to take advantage of lower prices

Shop around; there are plenty of flights available at the moment for domestic travel, so make sure you use comparison websites to find the cheapest deal.

Also, consider signing up for airline newsletters. They will often announce deals for customers in a regular newsletter before advertising it online.

Follow the demand. Airlines will often add flight paths in areas of high demand, so you’re more likely to get a cheap flight if you’re going on a popular route than something more niche.

Another tip is to avoid travel on Fridays and Sundays. If you are looking to do a bit of domestic travel, consider using up those annual leave days you stocked up on last year and take a mid-week trip.

Many people will be travelling over the weekends, whether it be for a long weekend or a friend’s wedding, these are the more expensive days to fly.

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