How to find cheap flights, despite hidden charges

How to Find Cheap Flights, Despite Hidden Charges

One of the great debates raging across the travel industry at the moment is the future of cheap flights. With the advent of low-cost airlines at the end of the 1990s, new vistas of travel opened up for many households who had previously regarded flying as way out of their price range.

Nowadays, with carriers such as Ryanair, Monarch Airlines and easyJet dominating the market, cheap flights are an everyday part of life. As the global economic downturn continues to put strain on households’ pockets, they are increasingly being used by business travellers, as well as budget-conscious holidaymakers.

Many within the sector point to the increased amount of market share taken by the low-cost carriers over the past year as proof that cheap flights are here to stay. It is certainly true that the recession has made trading conditions for the more established chartered airlines very difficult.

All airlines were feeling the pinch as the price of fuel kept creeping higher and higher ahead of the credit crunch, but the big long-haul companies and the flag carriers have been hardest hit by the global slump. This is due to a combination of factors – particularly a drop in demand for business, club or first-class tickets – leading to empty seats on planes and the need to implement capacity cuts to stem financial losses.

Meanwhile, the budget airlines have picked up the slack on short and even medium-haul routes. Some, such as Ryanair, have even managed to expand during this period, placing itself in what looks like a near-unassailable position.

However, there are still doomsayers within the travel world that insist the bubble will inevitably burst. They point to increases in fuel duty and airport charges, and argue that this will eventually no longer make cheap flights profitable.

Budget airlines such as easyJet have complained bitterly about the British government’s increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD), and some have even pulled out of many UK airports as a result. However, carriers such as Ryanair have countered this by expanding their operations in countries like Spain, which have halved their airport charges and waived all tourism taxes to attract investment. Recently, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said that he confidently expected his airline to be offering more cheap flights than ever before in the future.

Certainly for the time being, a quick look at price comparison websites shows the casual viewer that there is no shortage of deals on cheap flights out there. As long as the sector remains split on the issue, there is no way of telling how long this state of affairs will endure.

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