Airline prices to "increase worldwide"

A leading travel industry think tank warned Thursday that passengers should expect to pay more for their airline tickets in the coming years.

The ITB World Travel Trends report suggested that airlines will need to "significantly adjust their ticket prices" in order to regain profitability, leading to price hikes for the consumer.

Many airlines slashed prices on popular routes at the outset of the economic crisis to try to fill planes, but recent research has suggested that careful capacity management and a slow pick-up in demand has reduced the number of empty seats. Having been forced to achieve efficiency, experts now predict that carriers will begin to increase fares, passing on anticipated increases in taxes and charges to the consumer.

"The over-capacity of the world's airline industries has been reduced," said Dr. Martin Buck, vice president at Messe Berlin, the organization behind the research. "The currently unanswered question facing the world's airline industries is whether price-conscious consumers will continue to drive the downgrading trend we are seeing in bookings."

The findings are based on the assessments of 60 tourism experts from 30 countries, who have predicted an overall 4.9 percent return to growth in airline travel over the next decade.

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