Airlines Cutting Number Of Available Seats On Trans-Atlantic Flights To Support Higher Fares

In order to justify higher fares on flights across the wide, blue Atlantic, and protect themselves somewhat from European economic woes, U.S. airlines carriers are cutting down on the number of seats available on those flights. Summer ticket prices to western Europe have been climbing this year, and demand for those seats is holding steady at the same time.

Prices for flights to that part of Europe are up on average 3%, says Bloomberg News, citing Travelocity.com. Despite economic problems, people are still interest in buying Trans-Atlantic flights, with ticket sales rising 5.9% to 1.31 million for the peak travel months of summer.

Paring the number of seats that are available for sale allows carriers to maintain pricing power somewhat, and keep up the seasonal profits they’re used to in the face of the sluggish economy.

Delta is usually the first U.S. airline to report its operating results each month, so its traffic report for June will be telling. In May, after cutting capacity on flights, it filled 84.6% of its seats, an increase of 0.9 of a percentage point from a year ago.

Average prices from the U.S. to western Europe are running around $1,315 for May through September, which is 3% higher than the same period last year.

And even though jet fuel prices have been dropping, cutting costs for carriers, recent mergers between airlines are going to keep prices heading upwards, predict experts. Great for the airlines, not so great for the rest of us.

Airlines Lift U.S.-To-Europe Fares By Paring Seats [Bloomberg]