Airfares Will Drop to Record Lows this Fall | Travel + Leisure

August 11, 2015 - Comment

  A new forecast finds that airfares will drop to a four-year low. The price of an average round-trip airline ticket will slip to $244 next month, about 5% lower than the same time last year, according to a new forecast by Hopper, a Montreal-based company that analyzes airfare data. Prices will will average about

 

A new forecast finds that airfares will drop to a four-year low.

The price of an average round-trip airline ticket will slip to $244 next month, about 5% lower than the same time last year, according to a new forecast by Hopper, a Montreal-based company that analyzes airfare data.

Prices will will average about $249 through the end of the year. That’s about 2.8% cheaper than in 2014 and 6.8% cheaper than in 2013. All told, fares haven’t been this low in at least four years.

Typically, prices will fall during the latter part of summer before stabilizing in the fall and early winter, explains Patrick Surry, Hoppers chief data scientist. Since this summer was cheaper than last summer, we expect prices to remain lower than last year through the rest of this year, returning slightly closer to normal by the end of the year.

Hoppers prices are calculated differently from the way the Department of Transportation (DOT) reports airfares. The government takes an average of all tickets, including expensive last-minute tickets which usually are purchased by business travelers. The governments numbers suggests airfares have risen steadily since 2009, nearing an average of $400 per ticket at the end of last year. Hopper represents what leisure travelers should expect to pay by excluding business, first class, and any very expensive coach tickets, such as those purchased at the last minute.

So whats driving prices down? As is always the case with airfares, its complicated, and a number of factors may be at work.

Prices normally drop after the summer. But that doesn’t entirely explain this years dramatic declines. Its noteworthy that the typical fare is still 3.9% below July 2014, when it was measured at $272, says Surry. Prices this year are still well below last years levels, and we expect consumers to continue to find better deals through the rest of the year.

The Department of Justice is currently investigating the major airlines’for possible collusion. That may be factoring into the industry’s pricing decisions. Higher fares could prove the governments point, that competition has been squeezed out of the system and that airlines are working in tandem to drive fares higher.

Hoppers airfare index combines search data for every origin and destination in the United States to offer a near-real time estimate of overall airfare prices. Its previous estimates have been within 1%, or about $5, of the actual fares. So while Hoppers research may not tell us why prices are falling, its a pretty safe bet that they’re going down.

And that’s good news, whether you’re flying to a business meeting or your next vacation.

This article originally appeared on fortune.com.

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