Domestic airfares are cheaper than the record highs reached at the end of 2022, but they are still above pre-pandemic levels, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). The airline competition report, released on Wednesday, found cheaper airfares were partially driven by lowered fuel prices, greater seat capacity, and declines in consumer demand after the Christmas period.
There were 5.9 million seats available on domestic carriers in January – the highest since May 2022. However, only 4.4 million of these seats were used, which is still below 2019 levels. Less than a quarter of flights were over 15 minutes late in January, which is the best performance in over nine months. However, cancellation rates didn’t see similar improvements. Jetstar was named the worst carrier for delays and cancellations.
What About Complaints?
Qantas was the carrier with the most customer complaints to the ACCC in the 2021/22 financial year (1,740). These were generally about delayed or cancelled flights. The ACCC said Qantas needs to “do more” to improve its services, and is assessing the complaints to see if they entail breaches of consumer law.
While the report mostly focused on domestic activity, it also noted China’s reopening in January as a significant factor in returning international travel to pre-pandemic levels. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in December found that international travel was at about two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels. Many international carriers, such as Qantas and Emirates, are expecting to build services back to pre-pandemic levels in the calendar year.