Even in autumn and winter, many Czechs travel by plane to exotic destinations in search of warmth or to soak up the pre-Christmas atmosphere in European or world capitals. This year, they have to deal with a noticeable increase in the price of airline tickets and also with ongoing problems with airport traffic.
“In September, we started planning our trip to the UK for Christmas. Back then, return tickets for less than two thousand crowns could be found. However, when we finally had the exact arrival and departure dates a month later, the cheapest tickets with a low-cost airline could be found for more than four thousand,” Marek, who has relatives in England, said.
“Together with my checked-in suitcase for approximately CZK 1,600, I paid CZK 10,000 for two tickets. Back in 2019, it was still possible to get tickets for around a thousand, even for the period around Christmas,” he added.
The prices vary significantly between destinations. According to Josef Trejbal, the director of the Letuška.cz portal, on average, the cost of flights within Europe has risen by 15 percent year-on-year, while the increase is a quarter outside Europe.
“For flights to Asia, airlines have had to reflect that they are going to Russia and Ukraine. The cheapest tickets can be bought in advance,” Trejbal said.
According to the Lonely Planet travel site, airline bosses expect problems at airports, mainly due to staff shortages, to continue into the winter and expect a return to normal by next summer at the earliest.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol, for example, is still in trouble, and hundreds of staff at London’s Heathrow Airport will strike for three days from 18 November for higher wages. They have chosen the period when the World Cup will start in Qatar.
According to Prague airport spokeswoman Klára Divíšková, however, no significant complications await the country’s main airport.
“In terms of demand, we expect December to be classically stronger than, for example, November. The traffic will also be stronger compared to the two previous years; we expect the return of foreign tourists during the Christmas holidays and the end-of-year celebrations,” she said.
“We are registering, especially towards the end of the year, about a 30 percent increase in interest in air tickets compared to last December. However, the winter schedule is limited compared to the summer one, and fewer passengers fly. Moreover, a large number of tickets already sold are not within Europe, but to exotic countries such as Thailand or Mauritius,” Trejbal said.
However, he does not expect a repeat of this summer’s situation, when major European airports were overcrowded and airlines canceled flights in large numbers.