Airfares in 2023: A Look at the Trends and Increases

A passenger walks to the airport terminal.
Photo Credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi via Pexels

Air travel analytics leader Cirium used its Cirium FM Traffic data to analyze airfare trends in 2023. The report reveals that economy fares generally rose across North America and Europe compared to 2019. However, the good news is that these increases haven’t outpaced inflation.

“While airfare has gone up in the U.S. and Europe, consumers can find some comfort in the fact that the rise hasn’t been as significant as for other goods,” said Cirium CEO Jeremy Bowen.

“Cirium’s data teams will continue to monitor how increased market capacity impacts fares, despite ongoing challenges with aircraft availability due to groundings, engine issues, and supply chain constraints.”

Cirium’s analysis covered the U.S. domestic market (including 13 major airlines), intra-European travel, and transatlantic flights.

The data is presented in non-directional averages, displayed in U.S. dollars, and excludes taxes and fees. Economy class fares are assumed unless otherwise specified.

Aerial view of George Bush Intercontinental Houston Airport at sunset.
Photo Credit: Houston Airports

Domestic Flights in the U.S.

The average domestic airfare across the 13 analyzed airlines reached $179.25 in 2023. This represents a 9% increase compared to the 2019 average of $164.63.

Notably, Cirium also considered data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the U.S. Consumer Price Index. This data revealed an inflation rate of 19% between 2019 and 2023.

In this context, airfare increases haven’t kept pace with inflation, translating to a 10% decrease in real terms.

A TSA checkpoint at an international airport terminal.
Michael Ball, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Starting in August 2023, domestic airfare showed a decrease of around 4% compared to the same months in 2022. December 2023 fares were 9% lower than December 2022.

The airlines included in the U.S. domestic airfare data are: Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Avelo Airlines, Breeze Airways, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, and United Airlines.

Intra-European Fares

Flights within Europe saw an 8% increase in fares compared to 2022 and a 12% increase compared to 2019.

The average European airfare in 2023 was $104.58 (approximately €96), compared to $93.17 (approximately €85.70) in 2019. Again, these figures exclude taxes and fees.

Passengers in Brussels Airport main terminal.
Photo Credit: Brussels Airport

Transatlantic Crossings

The average transatlantic economy fare in 2023 reached $435.17, compared to $410.75 in 2022 and $381.08 in 2019. This translates to a 14% increase in 2023 compared to 2019.

However, Cirium’s data indicates a different trend for transatlantic business class fares. Business class fares in 2023 were 3% lower compared to 2019, with December 2023 fares dropping 7% compared to December 2019. The average business class fare in 2023 was $1,845.

Increase in Transatlantic Capacity

Cirium’s Diio Mi schedule data suggests that airlines increased capacity in 2023 compared to 2022 and plan to do the same for summer 2024.

Transatlantic carriers saw an 18% rise in seats flown in 2023 compared to 2022. For the peak summer month of July 2024, transatlantic carriers are expected to offer nearly 375,000 more seats compared to July 2023.

Airlines like Air France, Delta Air Lines, and Lufthansa are leading the increase. This rise in capacity could potentially lead to lower fares on certain routes.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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