Cheapest Airfares Slump Almost 12 Percent In January, Consumers Urged To 'Shop Around'

16/01/2016 9:35 AM AEDT | Updated July 15, 2016 12:51
Fairfax Media via Getty Images
(AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND OUT) A Jetstar jet stands on the tarmac, 12 July 2007. AFR Picture by JIM RICE (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

If you're looking to escape the start of the work year, now's a great time to take a flight.

Discount airfares have fallen to their lowest level in 17 months, slumping 11.7 per cent in January, according to the latest official data.

They are now 7.4 percent lower than the same time last year.

The lowest discount fares usually only last for a short time on low-cost carriers and don't include extras like in-flight food and baggage.

While the figures are positive for budget travellers, business flyers are paying more, with business class airfares lifting 3.2 per cent in January. They are 7.5 per cent higher than a year ago.

Restricted economy airfares have also edged higher, rising 2.3 per cent in January, the data shows.

Commsec chief economist Craig James said customers were benefiting from the falls.

"Discount airfares were consistently falling from 2008-2010 and then over 2014. And the good news for travellers is that airfares are falling again," James said.

"But as a further indication of improved conditions for companies, business class airfares and restricted economy airfares are continuing to edge higher."

He said while airlines were enjoying lower costs, it was up to consumers to find the lowest prices.

"Lower jet fuel prices and modest wage growth is improving the cost environment for airlines," he said.

"The onus is on the traveller to shop around to encourage airlines to pass on the cost savings in terms of lower fares."

The latest data comes after a review by Flight Centre showed the lowest discount fares to popular destinations fell 14 per cent fall over the last 12 months amid a boost in capacity on many routes.

Flight Centre's Australian leisure business general manager, Tom Walley, told Fairfax Media Hawaii was the best destination for those looking for a bargain.

He said the cheapest return Sydney-Honolulu fare had fallen 40 percent while discounted Sydney-Bail return fare was down almost 30 percent.

In addition to Hawaii and Bali, the best deals are said to be on the Sydney-Fiji and Sydney-Phuket routes, with the cheapest fares now about 25 per cent lower than the same time in 2015.

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