Canadians paying more for airfares as summer ticket prices jump

Canadians paying more for airfares as summer ticket prices jump
A new report says fares on summer flights to Canadian cities have shot up over the past year. People make their way through Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ont. on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

Looking to catch a flight this summer? Prepare to open your wallet even wider.

A new report says travellers are paying significantly more to fly within Canada during peak tourism season compared with last year, as limited capacity and competition outweigh easing demand to push up ticket costs.

Prices for domestic flights in July through September rose 14 per cent on average over the past 12 months, according to figures from the Flight Centre Travel Group.

“We’re seeing definite increases in cost across board,” said Chris Lynes, managing director of the Australia-based travel agency’s operation in Canada.

As the pent-up demand for leisure travel that followed the COVID-19 pandemic began to wane, he anticipated slight decreases in price. But plateauing seat capacity and less competition help explain the rise in fares, especially noticeable on short-haul flights.

Fares on one-way flights from Calgary to Vancouver rose 27 per cent to $580. Montreal-to-Toronto routes saw a 36 per cent price increase to $781. Tickets for an Edmonton-to-Vancouver trip rose 82 per cent, to $737.

“The seat capacity has either stayed the same or reduced. So when you have the excess capacity and the lack of seats, you’re always going to see the prices increase,” Lynes said.

Several Canadian airlines have run into plane delivery delays caused by production problems at aircraft maker Boeing Co., which has constricted their ability to grow their fleets.

Meanwhile, the past 13 months brought more industry consolidation as discount carriers Lynx Air and Swoop disappeared from the skies and WestJet bought Sunwing Airlines — developments that helped prompt a Competition Bureau study launched last month.

“When Lynx goes out of business or you see a consolidation with WestJet and Sunwing, it’s inevitable you’re going to see a cost increase,” Lynes said.

However, Porter Airlines is tacking on two planes per month, part of a rapid expansion plan that injects a dose of competition into the market.

Business travel has also begun to recover after a long post-pandemic delay, but that only adds to the costlier fares.

“If you’re in business class, they are still quite pricey,” Lynes said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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