The UK’s consumer champion Which? has found that flight prices for the upcoming autumn half-term school holiday are 42% more expensive than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. 

According to an analysis of data from Skytra, an airfare benchmark administrator, there have been huge price rises on flights departing from across England. Which? reports that the average cost of a one-way ticket at half term for six popular destinations was £212 this year compared to £150 in 2019. 

Rising fuel costs, pent-up demand and passenger caps at airports are all contributing factors to this rise, according to Skytra chief executive Elise Weber. 

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Madrid’s airport. Image Cordon Press.

Of the six destinations analysed, three are in Spain: Alicante, Malaga and Tenerife. The remainder were Antalya, Dubai and Dublin. The departure airports were England’s busiest: Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Luton and Birmingham.

The study found that the Heathrow to Tenerife route had experienced the biggest ticket hike, with an average extra cost of £262 per passenger per flight compared to pre-pandemic days, meaning an extra £2,096 spent for a family of four. 

Meanwhile, Heathrow to Malaga flights had risen from £193 to £282, which is a hike of 216% in just three years. 

Which? also found that those who booked their half-term flights six months in advance paid an average of £60 less each way compared to those who booked three months before, which translates into savings of £480 for a family of four. 

The consumer champion is calling for passenger rights to be upheld and enforced in this context of higher prices, and wants to see the Civil Aviation Authority to be given powers to impose heavy fines on operators when they break the rules.

“Travellers have had a torrid time this year and our analysis shows they’re paying through the nose for their trouble,” said Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel. “With fares so high, it’s even more important that airports and airlines are held to account for the unacceptable disruption travellers have faced. The government should give the Civil Aviation Authority stronger powers so it can hit operators with heavy fines when they flout the rules.”

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