Before the big airline shutdown and there were flights back to the UK from Australia, one family wanting to return ‘home’ said the airlines were ripping people off. They said they had been quoted an incredible fare of some £60,000 for their family of six. One UK paper took this at face value with a “price-gouging” headline or something similar, as usual without looking into it.
Interestingly, Simon Calder, the well-known travel correspondent for the Independent and other news providers, as usual did his homework and found all was not all it seemed.
Calder found that while the total quoted was a genuine fare it was for First and Business Class seats on the day in question but a couple of days later day there were relatively cheap seats in Economy etc.
Empty Aircraft Outbound!
Furthermore, he pointed out that even where airlines might charge more than in normal times they were not profiteering because in order to bring people back there would have to fly an empty plane outbound with no revenue. So people could hardly complain if they tried to avoid losing money.
Now that there are hardly any flights and most normal flights banned there has obviously been justification for special repatriation flights arranged by the UK government say from countries like Peru.
However, where there are a few flights available one wonders whether some–including backpackers who are falling out of favour in Australia–are hanging on in the hope they will get a cheap or even free flight at the expense of the taxpayer.
Of course, there is a very great need for repatriation flights especially for people with problematic health conditions or nowhere to stay. Working out who deserves it or really needs help may have made the UK Government hesitate at times.
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