Wild cost of flights ahead of the Formula One in Melbourne

If you’re booking a last minute flight to Melbourne ahead of the Formula One this weekend, or you simply had plans to visit the city for a getaway, you’re going to have to dig a little deeper in those pockets.

The Australian Grand Prix officially kicks off on Sunday at Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit in what’s predicted to be one of the most highly anticipated races of the season.

However, fans will be flocking to the track as of Thursday with four days of events, practice and qualifying sessions and support races.

It’s already tipped to attract record crowds of more than 440,000 as fanatics gear up to see the likes of world champion Max Verstappen, Aussie F1 star Oscar Piastri and of course Daniel Ricciardo race.

Those who have managed to snap up a last-minute ticket or are yet to purchase their flights will be in for a shock with airfares from Sydney to Melbourne costing at least $395.

“If you’ve left it late to book your flight you’ll be paying a premium, with a flight from Sydney to Melbourne on Thursday costing at least $395,” Flight Centre Travel Group managing director of Australia, James Kavanagh said.

“A couple of weeks later the same route on this day is almost a quarter of that at just $92.”

Mr Kavanagh said Melbourne flight and hotel bookings for this year’s F1 Australian Grand Prix are up three per cent on last year’s event.

“We’re also receiving bookings for private jets through our charter business AVMIN, much like we did for Taylor Swift, where groups are finding this option a really special way to experience the main event,” he told news.com.au.

“Corporate travellers are loving the F1 this year, no doubt because of the event’s extensive premium hospitality offerings trackside.”

“Bookings through our brand Corporate Traveller are up a staggering 146 per cent on 2023 which is more than double what we saw for last year’s AFL Grand Final and 20 per cent higher than this year’s Australian Open.”

A quick search on Sky Scanner reveals a return flight from Sydney to Melbourne on Friday to Monday is from $916 with Virgin Australia, while Qantas starts from $1,095. This is compared to about $414 for the following week.

Meanwhile, Booking.com and Webjet have seen a huge spike in accommodation searches.

“Booking.com’s latest search data continues to highlight how major events such as the Australian Grand Prix continue to drive travel demand and a return to pre-pandemic levels,” Lacey, Booking.com’s Regional Manager, Oceania, said.

The online travel booking platform’s search data highlights an increase in travellers heading to the track from the prior year.

And it’s no surprise with Australian Grand Prix chief executive Travis Auld revealing most tickets across the four days have been sold.

Last year the event attracted a crowd of 444,631, with a new record beckoning.

“Because people are buying tickets and the show up rates are high, it’s not like footy where you are relying on members to show up,’’ Mr Auld told the Herald Sun.

“And so we’ve sold enough tickets to beat last year’s record, assuming they all turn up.

“We’re feeling pretty confident.’’

Booking.com search data indicates a 25 per cent year-on-year increase in Melbourne accommodation searches, from both international and domestic travellers over the race weekend compared to 2023.

meanwhile, new data from Webjet also showed a spike in bookings to Melbourne, jumping a whopping 52 per cent compared to the start of the month.

It said bookings revved up in the same week season 6 of Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ docuseries aired.

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