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How expensive will air travel be after the Covid-19 crisis?

May 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A commercial aircraft flies over the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel in the port at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on November 26, 2015 ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / TOM GANDOLFINI (Photo by Tom GANDOLFINI / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOM GANDOLFINI/AFP via Getty Images)

What will airfares be like when the coronavirus pandemic is contained and passengers start flying again? CNN Travel considers whether affordable air travel is over for good, or if things might one day return to "normal"

Many other airlines are allowing bookings as normal, with one going so far as attempting to have passengers pay to observe social distancing.

If demand remains low, and airlines have to compete for a limited number of travelers, airfares will likely use low fares to attract as many travelers as they're able. "

Airlines levy fuel surcharges to help pay for it, which are included in the final ticket price as a "YQ" fee, which accounts for variations in fuel cost.

"Jet fuel typically accounts for 20-25% of an airline's operating expenses," Manoel Suhet tells CNN Travel.

Suhet, CEO at Business Traveler Deals and a former airline executive with a background in international oil distribution, weighs that if crude oil and jet fuel prices continue to decline, air carriers may benefit from this lower price environment, but it will hardly be immediate.

"Many airlines use fuel hedging to minimize the risk of fuel price volatility by agreeing to purchase a certain amount of oil in the future at a set price," says Suhet.

In other words, even though oil is cheap, jet fuel still needs to be refined from it, a process that adds to the price, and laying out cash right now to buy future fuel isn't exactly at the top of an airline's to-do list.

Asiana Airlines is taking a similarly forgiving stance, promoting ticket sales with the promise of "buy now, fly any date. " Book a flight from the United States to South Korea on Asiana and the airline will waive change fees not only once, a conciliation that has become standard among airlines during COVID, but up to three times.

Airlines are adjusting for demand, so will airfares stay the same?

Airfares will continue to respond to supply and demand, but the possibility of tourism promotions or the need to purchase social distance on planes are emerging -- provisionally, at least -- as forces destined to push prices a little lower, or a little higher.

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