NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 03/12/11 -- On February 27th, 2009 1st-Air.Net first reported that international business and first class fares had reached historical lows caused by the global recession. Coincidently, this 1st-Air.Net report was released just days before the U.S. stock market reached its generational bottom in March, 2009. Like the equity markets, premium cabin fares have also been on a torrid climb. In just two years, fares on several routes have gone from record discounts to exceeding their all time highs. Below is a look back at the business class fares cited in the March, 2009 release along with their current pricing as of March, 2011.San Francisco-Seoul with Singapore Airlines -- In February, 2009 the business class fare was $3,000 roundtrip. Singapore Airlines pricing is currently $4,218, a 29% increase. Los Angeles-Paris with Air France -- In February 2009, round trip business class fares with a 14 day advance purchase were just $3,424. The same business class seat purchased two weeks in advance currently sells for $9,932, a 290% increase! Around the World Business Class fares -- The One World 3 Continent business class fare originated in the U.S. sold for $7,740 in February, 2009. This same ticket type sells for $10,199, a 24% increase. When originated in Korea, the same ticket type has gone from $3,411 to $7,620, a 223% increase. Specialized around-the-world fares may be available through Passport Premiere. Los Angeles-Sydney -- One market where fares have come down is Australia. Thanks to new competition from V Australia and Delta Airlines, business class fares with 50 days advance purchase start a $5,400 + taxes. This is nearly half of the 2008 fare levels. U.S-Europe Business Class Sale fares -- In 2009, business class fares purchased more than 50 days in advance with most U.S. and European carriers to Europe ranged from $1,900-$2,300. In 2011, this same fare type, targeted towards leisure travelers, ranges from $3,800-$4,400. The fare levels that were paid by business class travelers in 2009 are now being asked from leisure travelers in 2011. Summer Sale Fares -- Pockets of opportunity do exist for Europe bound leisure travelers, with business fares starting at just $1,500 + taxes for travel in July and August. According to premium cabin analyst Passport Premiere, this may be an indicator of declining forward demand for summer travel.
A signal of the true strength of the economic recovery will be how much further carriers can push fares upward before they encounter resistance. Premium fares fell hard in the fall of 2008 as the global recession took fares from their record highs to record lows in a matter of months. Like 2008, carriers currently face headwinds ranging from rising oil prices to geopolitical events in the Middle East and the recent earthquake in Japan. These events, along with escalating fares on several routes, are likely to influence buyer sentiment in 2011.