The British Office for National Statistics reported that the cost of air travel in the United Kingdom has been rising at the fastest rate ever, accelerating sharply from an increase of 24.3% in November, to a 44.4% spike in December, compared with the previous year.

Current air travel costs increase is the country’s largest year-on-year surge in air fares since at least 1989, with industry analysts saying that it could be a sign that budget travel is coming to an end in the UK.

According to the airlines, travel demand remains high in the UK in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, even with the cost-of-living upheaval and grim economic prognosis.

Despite skyrocketing air fares and a slump in living standards and disposable incomes in the UK, Irish ultra-low-cost giant Ryanair reported record numbers of bookings in January, passing two million sales in a weekend for the first time with prices across the sector boosted by high fuel costs, strong demand and limited capacity following the pandemic. Ryanair DAC is an Irish ultra-low-cost carrier founded in 1984, headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland with its primary operational bases at Dublin and London Stansted airports.

It forms the largest part of the Ryanair Holdings family of airlines and has Ryanair UK, Buzz, Lauda Europe, and Malta Air as sister airlines. Ryanair is Ireland’s biggest airline and in 2016 became Europe’s largest budget airline by scheduled passengers flown, carrying more international passengers than any other airline. Ryanair Group operates more than 400 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with a single 737-700 used as a charter aircraft, as a backup, and for pilot training.

Ryanair has been characterized by its rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model. The airline’s route network serves 40 countries in Europe, North Africa (Morocco), and the Middle East (Israel, and Jordan). “People I think are worrying that prices are going to rise this summer, which they will, and getting in early and booking their travel,” Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said.

O’Leary expects air passenger numbers in Great Britain to swell to 168 million by March of this year and to 185 million the following year. “Summer looks very strong, and fares are rising,” Ryanair’s chief said, adding that there would be “high single-digit” percentage increases in fares for a second year.

Nonetheless, other European budget carriers have warned however that ultra-cheap air fares will soon come to an end.