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Why are flight prices higher in Italy than the rest of Europe this summer?

Elaine Allaby
Elaine Allaby - [email protected]
Why are flight prices higher in Italy than the rest of Europe this summer?
Air fares to and from Italy are rising in summer 2024. Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP.

A recent analysis found that fares for flights between European countries have decreased on average this summer - but mysteriously, Italy is bucking the trend.


Italy may be at the start of a summer tourism boom, but that's no thanks to the cost of its airline tickets, which are higher than ever this year.

According to a recent analysis in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, intra-Europe fares from June to September 2024 are down three percent on average compared to the same period last year - but Italy's flight costs have risen.

The average price of a summer flight between Italy and the rest of Europe has increased by seven percent since 2023, data shows, while domestic flights cost as much as 21 percent more.

Corriere doesn't offer much of an explanation for the hikes, though says industry sources say it could be down to demand being higher than anticipated.

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It's true that supply chain issues have reduced the available fleet of global aircraft at a time when the appetite for international travel is as high as ever - but this is an industry-wide problem that shouldn't disproportionately affect Italy.

Carmelo Calì, the vice president of consumer rights watchdog Confconsumatori, suggested in a recent interview that the main culprit is a lack of healthy competition in the Italian market.

"Despite what is said to the contrary, in our country companies often find themselves operating at airports practically alone," Calì told consumer publication Il Salvagente (The Lifejacket).

"Even when there is competition, prices remain high, because the race is upwards and not downwards."

The high price of Italy's domestic flights have been a point of contention for years, with consumer unions long complaining that fares for tickets between mainland Italy and the major islands are exorbitant.


Italy's Price Surveillance Guarantor Benedetto Mineo, who officially goes by Mister Prezzi ('Mr. Prices'), last summer called on the seven main airlines operating in Italy to account for a 40 percent annual increase in the cost of some key domestic routes.

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This was followed by the government announcing a price cap on flights connecting Sardinia and Sicily to the Italian mainland - that it promptly shelved just one month later, after budget carrier Ryanair led a furious pushback by low cost airlines.

"Here companies believe they have freedom that they don't have elsewhere, convinced they can get away with it, while in the rest of Europe they fear being punished," said Calì.

That may explain why the EU's competition watchdog has been so slow to approve a proposed partial takeover of Italy's national flag carrier ITA by Germany airline Lufthansa.

The Commission has repeatedly insisted that Lufthansa must give away a certain number of its slots at Milan's Linate airport in compliance with EU competition rules in order for the deal to go ahead.



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