Airfares to drop to record lows by end of August, experts say

Critics: Prices are artificially high


Looking to get away on the cheap this fall?

After months of sky-high air fares, late August could see airfares sink to four-year record lows, according to industry experts.

In July, analysts at Hopper forecasted that ticket prices in August will be about 5 percent lower compared to the same time last year, averaging at $244 for a round-trip fare. Through the end of year, prices will average about $249 through the end of year, almost 3 percent cheaper than 2014, and nearly 7 percent cheaper than comparable fares in 2013.

“Typically, prices will fall during the latter part of summer before stabilizing in the fall and early winter,” Patrick Surry, Hopper’s chief data scientist, told Fortune. “Since this summer was cheaper than last summer, we expect prices to remain lower than last year through the rest of this year, returning slightly closer to normal by the end of the year.”

Data from Google Flights analyzed by Huffington Post found several examples of dramatic discounts on airfare for the end of this month. A round trip flight from New York City to Chicago booked for travel on Aug. 1 returning Aug 5. would have cost about $267. But the same flight booked Aug. 22 through Aug 26 will cost just $81. There’s an even bigger discount for a New York-Los Angeles itinerary—down to just $206 on Aug. 29 from $629 earlier in the month.

So what’s driving these dramatic fare discounts?

Seasonally, we’re approaching a “Deal Zone,” late summer dates which typically see airlines slashing higher summer fares. Demand is also lower as kids head back to school—and before the upswing in fares for winter holiday travel.

But this year, fares are especially low since Justice Department is launched an investigation into airline collusion, which may be prompting carriers to lower fares to avoid facing fines down the road, reports Fortune. In the past, sinking airplane fuel costs have not necessarily resulted in cheaper tickets for consumers, but this year may be a different story.