Say goodbye to the era of cheap travel—at least that’s what multiple international outlets are reporting. The claim came from Alexandre de Juniac, director-general of aviation representative body, International Air Transport Association, in a press briefing last week.
He theorized that the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a new normal in air travel that prioritizes social distancing on flights. The mandate to leave empty seats between passengers will force airlines to hike up prices if they want to survive in the post-coronavirus world. At this rate, at least a third of airplane seats will have to be left empty, which will lead to tickets worth 50% more than their supposedly original price.
“Either you fly at the same price, selling the ticket at the same average price as before and then you lose an enormous amount of money, so it's impossible to fly for any airline,” the director-general puts is bluntly. “Or you increase the ticket price for a similar product by at least 50 per cent and then you are able to fly with a minimum profit."
Following this, the IATA also revealed that domestic travel, in particular, has suffered a 70% slump since the pandemic spiked in January, warning that global recovery for the travel and airline industry would most likely be slow.
Budget airlines, in particular, may especially have a hard time gaining back their losses. "Budget airlines [will be] hit equally hard due to a slump of demand. Depending on their financial margins, some airlines survive and others may not. If governments don't help then the airlines [which do survive] will emerge weaker and in a poor position for international competition,” director-general Juniac said.
Amid reports claiming the end of budget travel, Cebu Pacific reassured its customers that such increase in plane tickets would not be the case for their airline. "Mayroon namang ibang ways para ma-manage natin the cost of a flight. So hindi naman necessary na tataas ito [at] wala nang Piso Fare,” Cebu Pacific spokesperson Charo Logarta-Lagamon said in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo last April 28. "Mandate na po ng Cebu Pacific mula noong magsimula ang airline 24 years ago, mandato na po na magbigay sa publiko ng abot-kaya at accessible na pamasahe,” she continued, in reference to their Piso Fairs.
That said, don't be so quick to up and leave the country once the lockdown is lifted. In the wake of all this travel news, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat predicted that traveling won’t even be possible at all this 2020. “International travel might not happen this year. At this point in time, traveling (abroad) is but a dream,” she stated in a House committee virtual hearing last April 28.