New era of cheaper air travel due to land as fees slashed
Airline passengers are set for a new era of cheaper travel, with fares across Europe and the globe continuing to fall.
A decline in fuel costs, more airline capacity and more intense competition have prompted carriers to cut prices.
Now, flyers are reaping the benefits.
The outgoing director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tony Tyler, told an audience of global aviation executives in Dublin yesterday that the organisation expects global airlines to make combined profits this year of $39.4bn (€35.3bn).
But he added that the amount of profit, or yield, they generate will fall 7pc in 2016. That yield decline reflects a fall in average ticket prices.
Past month, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said that he expected average fares at the airline to decline by 7pc over the summer, and by 12pc during the winter.
That's because cheaper oil has allowed rivals to cut their prices in an attempt to compete with carriers such as Ryanair.
There's also strong competition on the transatlantic market, which is putting some downward pressure on fares.
The fall in air fares also comes as Ryanair confirmed it's slashing baggage costs for customers.
It has been streamlining baggage charges as part of its 'Always Getting Better' customer service improvement programme.
Ryanair said that on flights with a duration of under two hours, checked baggage fees for a 15kg case will be cut by 50pc from €30 to €15.
On flights lasting under three hours, those baggage fees will drop by 17pc to €25. On flights of over three hours, baggage fees won't be changed.
Bags weighing up to 20kg will also see price cuts, although not as sharp as the lighter baggage.
The airline said the lower prices will benefit 92pc of its flyers. A spokesman added: "Ryanair customers can look forward to more improvements as part of Year Three of our 'Always Getting Better' programme - which includes even lower fares, more new routes, new digital features and new cabin interiors."
Some airlines habitually hike baggage fees at the start of the summer season.
Fianna Fáil tourism spokesman, Robert Troy, warned: "These increases in air travel costs will act as a disincentive for people who are planning to travel to Ireland. Ultimately, it will put unnecessary pressure on job creation in the tourism sector.
"There's no justification for the increase in fees and it seems airlines are just attempting to take advantage of the busy summer tourism season."