The market for Europe travel has softened, undermined by Brexit and terrorism concerns, among other factors. And what market there is is served by a growing contingent of cut-rate carriers like WOW and Norwegian Air.
For the airlines, that’s a sure recipe for lower profits. For budget-conscious consumers, however, the picture is rosier. Lower Europe airfares should be in the offing.
Delta hinted at just such a scenario in last week’s earnings call with analysts, during which company executives reported a 9.7 percent decline in unit revenue and floated the possibility of offering no-frills fares on its Europe routes to compete with the discount trans-Atlantic carriers. Delta already offers what it calls Basic Economy fares domestically, “a value-fare option for price-driven customers.” While those fares are certain to be the lowest available, they come with trade-offs: no advance seat selection, no changes or refunds, no upgrades, among other no’s.
American and United also have plans to offer no-frills fares domestically, and could extend them to Europe routes as well.
Longer term, the legacy airlines are likely to regain their pricing power by limiting capacity growth, or even cutting flights, to realign supply with demand. But at least in the coming months, Europe airfares should be a relative bargain, especially if you’re willing to live with the compromises that come bundled with bare fares.
Reader Reality Check
Have you checked prices for Europe flights lately?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.