Cheaper flights for 2013?

Long and short-haul lights could get quite a bit cheaper in 2013 with seat sales starting earlier and lasting longer according to aviation economist Brian Pearce of the International Air Transport Association.

Discounts could be as high as 40%. What's driving the cheap seats thinking - and how soon could prices drop?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Cheap seats

"Much depends on how fast fuel prices fall," Pearce is quoted in the Telegraph. "The trend contrasts to the slump in business travel during the depth of the recession when thousands of seats in premium cabins were being dumped on the market, while prices in economy class did not fall."

However, Pearce thinks ordinary seat prices may come under pressure due to cheaper oil and the need from some airlines - particularly those who've lashed out on new aircraft - to keep seat occupancy high. So the ordinary traveller wins, rather than corporate execs. Possibly.

However other price pressures abound: like UK Air Passenger Duty, which has climbed more than 300% in the last seven years; it's now the highest in the world - it rose 8% last year - and is particularly bad news for families.

Tax pressure

APD was originally £5 per person for short-haul flights, and £10 elsewhere, when introduced in 1994. APD costs have spiralled to £184 per person on long-haul flights, also raising more than £2.5bn for the Treasury. Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic claimed APD would cost UK airline passengers £600mn along during the summer.

The usual creeping charges also add price pressure - excess baggage, booking fees. So-called budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet can be more expensive than traditional carriers like BA. (Easyjet recently announced record profits, doubling its dividend.)

But you may find a bargain, once you take all the stealth charges into account. Ryanair, be advised, introduced a new £2 admin fee on all credit card bookings from the start of December.
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