05 October 2005 | Amon Cohen
Economy air fares to UK and European destinations are falling and business-class fares are rising. But fares in both classes to the US and Far East are climbing, according to travel management company BTI UK.
A presentation at BTI UK's client conference in London showed short-haul business and economy fares are diverging for a second consecutive year. Pressure from low-cost carriers means the average price paid by BTI UK clients for a domestic economy flight has fallen from £209 to £195 since 2003, while a business-class ticket has risen £12 to £266.
In contrast, economy fares to the US have risen sharply from £971 to £1,108. Spencer Smith, BTI director of consulting, explained much of the growth is due to increased uptake of so-called "fourth cabin" seats, such as British Airways' World Traveller Plus, which are more expensive but classed as economy.
On short-haul routes, Smith said there is potential to save even more by buying non-flexible tickets in advance of departure.
But booking habits will have to change. At present, 70 per cent of bookings by BTI clients are made in the week of departure.