Why airfare will hit lowest mark in 7 years this summer

Posted at 5:33 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 17:33:11-04

NEW YORK — Travelers this summer are in luck: Airfares will be cheaper than they’ve been since 2009.

Fares for advanced-purchase tickets are likely be down about 12% compared to last year, and down 20% from two years ago, according to airfare prediction app Hopper. That means fares this summer will be at a seven-year low, according to Hopper. Average fares during the summer will range from an peak of $240 in June, and then drop to $211 by August.

Hopper tracks the fares generally used by leisure travelers, who have some flexibility on when they buy tickets and when they travel. Last minute ticket purchases by business travelers typically result in higher fares, but fares are declining for them as well, said Patrick Surry, Hopper’s chief data scientist.

Lower jet fuel prices are a big part of why plane tickets are cheap. But even if fuel prices start to climb, flyers don’t have to worry. Cheaper jet fuel prices have lead to increased industry capacity and competition, Surry said, and that’s what’s pushing down prices.

“Because it’s a profitable business to be in now, everyone is trying to expand,” he said, adding that only a big jump in fuel prices would cause airlines to cut back on capacity.

The major airlines have all been reporting lower fares in their recent earnings reports, with expectations that fares aren’t likely to rise until next year. The carries have also been reporting record profits thanks to billions in fuel savings.