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02:04 - Source: CNN
Hong Kong CNN  — 

Travelers across Asia Pacific will likely continue to fork out more than usual for flights this year, even as planes return to the skies at a rate not seen since the start of the pandemic.

Airfares within the region were 33% higher in February than the same month in 2019, compared with increases of 12% and 17% in Europe and North America, respectively, according to data from Skyscanner Travel Insight.

In some cases, customers are paying twice what they did four years ago.

A business class ticket from Paris to Shanghai that would have cost approximately $5,650 in 2019 has now doubled to more than $11,500, according to American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT). The firm is a travel platform that was spun off from the eponymous credit card company.

The average price for a business class seat from Singapore to Shanghai is also double 2019 levels, says Amex GBT.

The surge is part of a broader trend. Flight tickets globally are generally higher than pre-Covid levels due to a myriad of factors, noted Hugh Aitken, vice president of flights at Skyscanner.

But passengers in Asia Pacific are currently grappling with bigger price jumps than other regions, highlighting the uneven global recovery.

The problem isn’t expected to end anytime soon.

Economy fares to Asia from North America and Europe are set to rise 9.5% and 9.8% this year from last year, respectively, Amex GBT forecasts show. The latter is almost double the projected price jump for European economy routes to other geographies. A similar outlook is expected for the business class cabin.

Road to recovery

Experts say that soaring costs, labor shortages and the closure of Russian airspace are all pushing up prices.

The main constraint, however, is that Asia is still in the early stages of reopening.

Unlike North America and Europe, which have long relaxed border restrictions, most Asian destinations, such as Japan and South Korea, only reopened for travel in 2022.

Mainland China only lifted quarantine restrictions for international arrivals in January