A the exhibition “Pasión por volar” I found the following poster from Iberia with information of some routes and prices in the late 1970s:
That poster immediately triggered the idea of making the exercise of comparing the price of a same route then and nowadays.
Let’s take the flight Madrid – Sevilla:
- In 1977, the price announced in the poster was 15,100 pesetas (then the currency in Spain).
- Today, the price of that flight can be browsed at Iberia’s website. In order to avoid peak prices, I take for the comparison a flight over a weekend within a months from now and avoiding Christmas time. I get prices between 79.5 and 400 €. Let’s take the minimum.
Now we have to get inflation and peseta to euro exchange rate into the picture to compare apples to apples.
- Following the Maastricht Treaty (signed on February 7th, 1992), the exchange rate was fixed on 1 January 1999 when the euro was introduced in non-physical form, fixing the exchange rates between the currencies from the countries that would form the Euro area and the euro itself. For the Spanish peseta the rate was 1 euro = 166.386 pesetas.
- To account for inflation, we can check the site of the Spanish National Institute of Statistics here (INE, in its Spanish initials). The service provides data ranging from 1961 to 2012 (not 2015). We obtain that from 1977 to 2012 the cumulative inflation has been 769.2%. For the inflation between 2012 and 2015 we can check the site inflation.eu, and we obtain 0.25% for 2013 and -1.04% for 2014. Computing altogether, the cumulative inflation from 1977 to 2015 has been around 763%.
With all the data in place, let’s get the results:
- Those 15,100 pesetas from 1977 would be worth today (2015) about 692 euros, that is almost 9 times more expensive than the cheapest option today (79.5 €) or almost twice as expensive than an expensive option (400 €).
On the other hand, one would say that the service is not exactly the same. Today, the flight is operated by an Airbus A320, less noisy, and more spacious than the Douglas DC-8 or DC-9 that it probably used then in that line. However, you won’t get drinks or food in that flight today (I suppose that back in the 1970s you did). Also, in the offer from 1977 it was required that you travel in a group to benefit from those prices.
Finally, in the blog post about the exhibition I mentioned that I purchased the book catalogue of it. Inside the book I discovered some images that were not displayed at the exhibition from a route book dating from ~1951. In any case, I leave such other comparison for another post (if any).