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Airfares will likely be cheaper this summer — unless you're flying abroad

Demand for flights to Europe soars
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Americans planning to take to the skies this summer can expect lower prices on domestic flights but pricier fares for international trips, according to travel booking app Hopper. 

The average ticket price for a flight within the U.S. will be $306, down from $376 last summer, while peaking at about $349 around the July 4 holiday, Hopper forecast. By comparison, a ticket overseas will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 because more Americans are itching to visit foreign destinations like Rome, Seoul and Istanbul, Hopper said. 

"Many people who couldn't travel during the pandemic decided that is the one thing they really wanted to do when lockdowns ended," Clint Henderson, managing editor at travel news website The Points Guy, told CBS MoneyWatch. "People have been saving their travel dollars — and points and miles — for several years, and they are ready to spend on seeing new places. Some folks haven't seen their families in several years and they are traveling now, too."

Much pricier to fly overseas

Airfares on international flights are projected to hit their highest level since 2019, before the pandemic grounded most vacation travel, Hopper said. Tickets to Europe and Asia alone have jumped $300 compared to last summer. 

The average ticket to Europe will cost around $1,100 each, up sharply from $861 in 2019, while average prices to Asia will top $1,800 per ticket, up from $1,121 in 2019, according to Hopper. The average air ticket to Africa or the Middle East will cost around $1,454, up from $1,236 in 2019, and a trip to Australia and surrounding nations is expected to average $1,709, up from $1,128 in 2019, the app predicts.

Three reasons explain it's getting more expensive to fly overseas, said Hopper economist Hayley Berg. First, the cost of jet fuel has jumped since the pandemic, with airlines passing along some of the added cost to travelers. The cost of jet fuel this month is about $91 a barrel, compared to $15 a barrel in May 2020, according to International Air Transport Association data.

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"Though fuel costs have improved considerably in the last 15 months, prices remain the highest they've been since late 2014," Berg said in a statement. "Higher fuel costs will continue to put upward pressure on airfares, especially on expensive long haul international routes."

Airlines also haven't increased seat capacity on planes despite rising demand, further pushing up prices. Finally, Berg said Americans are aching to fly overseas because 2023 marks the first full summer that international destinations will have lifted their pandemic protocols. 

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