If you’ve already started planning a holiday this summer, you’ll have noticed that the cost of flights has increased dramatically – and that is likely because fuel prices have been rising for several months now. That’s due to the fatal combination of the economic recovery post-pandemic, growing geopolitical tensions and the politics of the member states of OPEC – the organisation that groups together the world’s biggest exporters of petrol. Whether cynical or mischievous, the latter have quite simply refused to increase the quantity of barrels available on the market.
Having sunk to just $18.50 dollars a barrel in April 2020 – the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – prices haven’t stopped rising, having reached a whopping $110 dollars today. Unsurprisingly, that’s had a huge impact on the prices of kerosene. The price of fuel represents between 25 and 35 percent of the cost of medium-haul flights and 35 to 45 percent of long-haul. The result is that the cost of flying has exploded in recent months.
According to the Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGAC), in February 2022, the cost of flying within France by air was already 7 percent higher than in February 2021. Worse still, this figure rises to 8.7 percent for flights to the country’s overseas territories, meaning that anyone who had planned hitting up a beach party in Guadeloupe or to hike around La Réunion have faced much higher costs. Experts now reckon this increase could rise to 15 or 20 percent in the coming months.
If these percentages don’t mean much to you, let us dive a little deeper. As of March 17 2022, all Air France flights have been subject to a flat increase destined to absorb the rise in kerosene prices: €40 for those seats in ‘eco’ class, €50 for those in ‘premium eco’ class and €100 for business class. That’s the impact of a rise of just 7 percent.
In fact, only domestic flights have seen prices fall, with a decrease of 1.9 percent between February 2021 and the same month of this year. That means it would cost Parisians much less to go to Marseille, Toulouse, Paris or Brest (and vastly increase your carbon footprint) than last year. You know our thoughts on that subject.
Faced with these astronomical rises, you might be tempted to jump in the car instead. The only thing is, the rising costs of petrol have hit the automotive industry, too. In one year, the prices of a litre of diesel and unleaded petrol have risen by 30.7 percent and 15.2 percent respectively.
All of which is to say that if you’re on Team Flying or Team Car, you might want to rethink your holiday budget. This is, however, another option: going on holiday by train, one of our favourite subjects here at Midnight Trains. We’ll never tire of saying it, but on top of not being subject to the vagaries of the petrol market, it offers a pretty unique way of getting around. It offers the opportunity to fall asleep in one city and wake up in another, and to marvel at landscapes far more impressive than just a sea of cloud or a never-ending motorway barrier. And what’s more, when you travel by train, there are no traffic jams. Time to swap roads for rails, we say.