Published on Thursday, September 18, 2008

Open skies brings down premium fares

Business class fares on transatlantic routes fell by as much as 25% following the Open Skies agreement, according to an American Express survey.

According to the TMC’s latest Business Travel Monitor for Europe, Middle East and Africa, average business fares on London to New York Newark flights fell 25% in the second quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, on London to JFK, prices fell by 24%, while on services between London and both Los Angeles and Seattle fares dropped by 9%,

Although steep oil prices pushed up the lowest restricted economy airfares for long-haul routes from Europe in the first quarter, the increases were tempered in quarter two due to a fall in demand.

On fuel-intensive long-haul services to Latin America and Caribbean, lowest restricted economy fares were up 29% in the first quarter, and 15% on flights to North America.

But in the second quarter, fares to North America fell by nearly a half (-49.1%) and to Latin America and Caribbean by 25.9%/

Notably, other classes of service, as well as domestic and short haul routes, remained relatively stable across Europe.

Joakim Johansson, vice president advisory services for Amex Business Travel EMEA, said: “Trading conditions for airlines have become increasingly difficult in the first half of the year, and 24 airlines filed for bankruptcy in the period, just under half of which were based in Europe.

“While prices have fluctuated in Economy class throughout Europe, fares in other classes, on average, have remained relatively stable. This is despite the pressures in the industry and the impact of Open Skies driving down Business Class fares significantly on certain key routes.”

By Bev Fearis

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