Aviation price index: Is this the secret to cheap travel, as SA ranks 11th for cheap flights?

Cape Town - It's a given that airline ticket prices use some of the most complex pricing algorithms and yield management systems in the world - it's hard to know where the fuel levies end and when the passenger taxes begin most of the time. 

Especially when you consider that there are hundreds of additional factors at play, including oil prices, political turmoil, airline competition and even the weather can have a huge impact on the cost of your ticket.

And while you can use standard cheat-sheet inclusions to try and find cheaper flights, such as searching on a Tuesday, flying out midweek instead of on the weekend or hiding your browser's location - there are certain factors you just can't get away from.

SEE: Budget-friendly Breaks: Quick tips to save on flights

This is where Online travel agency Kiwi.com's Aviation price index, looking at a total of 80 countries, is useful in pinpointing the cheapest countries when it comes to affordable travel. 

Following on from the findings of last year’s Flight Price Index, this round also tracks the changes in the industry, providing a compelling insight into the fluctuating price of air travel around the world, says the OTA.

For their 2017 Aviation pricing index, South Africa fairs moderately although many will agree air travel is expensive across the board, especially for domestic travel.

There appears to a be a relative gap in the market for long haul, low-cost offerings - and let's face it, we're never too conditioned to being served food and drinks in-flight, to try this method of travel if it means getting to explore new places or connecting with old family and friends in far off places with more affordable ticket prices. 

SEE: South Africa leads aviation safety in Africa - ICAO

This year South Africa ranks in position 11 over all as the cheapest country for ticket prices, with an average flight cost of US $7.25 per 100 km or R95 at R13.11/$ of travel, factoring in both short haul and long haul journeys. 

(source: Kiwi.com)

This is compared with the most affordable country, Malaysia, averaging a flight cost of $4.18 per 100 km of travel. At the other end of the ranking, Belgium calculated at a cost over 13 times higher, at $54.63 per 100 km of travel.  

Unfortunate to note that SA has slipped four spots from its 7th position ranking in 2016. 

Domestic or short haul low-cost travel

When it comes to domestic or short haul flights for low-cost airlines, we're not making much headway in the affordability market when compared globally either, ranking 24th with the average per 100km sitting at $6.71 or R88 per 100/km. 

Bulgaria, Romania and the Philippines come in cheapest for low-cost short haul at a margin of $R3.25. The most expensive countries for short haul travel according to the index are Qatar, Belgium and the Netherlands with a margin of $85.

Domestic or short haul full service travel

When it comes to domestic or short haul flights for full service SA ranks 11th at the same value of $6.71. Brazil, India and Moldova are the most affordable at a margin average of $3.50 per 100/km.  

While Chile, Qatar and Belgium are the most expensive for short haul, full service flights with a margin ranging between $152 to $86.

Long haul or international low-cost travel

South Africa barely enters the playing field at a low 43rd position with estimated costs per 100/km at $7.78 or R101 at R13.11/$ - especially when compared to the cheapest countries costing range for international low-cost travel.

Sweden, Norway and Spain are the cheapest countries with a margin of $1.45 per 100/km.  

Interestingly enough the United Arab Emirates, which has been positioning itself as a major global connectivity hub is listed as the most expensive for this category at $38.81 per 100km - followed by Argentina and Brazil.

SEE: Becoming a global aviation leader: Is SA on track?

Long haul or international full service travel

Countries cheapest for long haul, international full service flights are Lithuania, Norway and Sweden with a margin of $2,80 per 100/km.

In this category South Africa ranks 25th at a margin of $7,78 per 100/km - the same as its low-cost margin highlighting a gap in this particular offering for the country.

To calculate the rankings, Kiwi.com analysed over a million flights to find an average price of short-haul and long-haul flights on low-cost and full service airlines from each of the countries.

It says domestic flights were calculated by finding an average airfare from the country’s capital to up to five major cities within the country, or to a major city nearby in a neighbouring country when no domestic flights were available.

The index also shows the price of international travel calculated on flights from all international airports within the country, to several international hubs.

"All flights were checked for the same dates of travel taking into account high and low seasons." 

“Ticket prices fluctuate constantly for a myriad of reasons. Year on year changes can partly be attributed to fuel prices, socio-political shifts such as Brexit, recent elections and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.

"The UK, for example, is seeing a larger number of Americans visit due to the weakening of the pound, whereas Egypt and Turkey saw a drop in ticket prices due to a decrease in demand due to regional turmoil," said Kiwi.com CEO Oliver Dlouhý.

"By tracking flight cost by country, travellers have more information with which to choose destinations that allow them to travel further on their budget."

So there you have it, choosing your ideal route is a little bit easier, knowing the pricing related to various countries.

CHECK OUT: Traveller24's booking tool to search and compare flights

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