Ticket prices are rising due to increased demand, largely because more people want to escape the recent bitter winter weather, according to a travel agency manager in Ottawa.

Mohinder Handa Handa Travel Ottawa flights prices up January 2014

Mohinder Handa, who manages Handa Travel in Ottawa, says that while January is typically a slow month, prices are up because of more demand to escape the cold. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

Mohinder Handa, general manager at Handa Travel, in operation since 1976, says January is normally a slow month for travelling with lower prices but that the cold weather has made for an unusually brisk start to the year.

"Mainly, it's the cold weather," Handa said. "It's very unusually cold weather we are getting.

"It's pure economics," he said. "If there are less seats and there are more people they can get to travel, then they're not having any empty seats. And obviously they can demand whatever they like then."

Handa said a client came in last Saturday to talk about booking a package trip to Cancun. He returned Tuesday to book it, but the price had risen, and he had to pay $300 extra, Handa said.

Handa says airfares to Europe — which were about $1,100 for several years — have jumped to about $1,300 or $1,400.

For winter sun packages, "prices are more or less in the same line as what they've been last year, but what you don't see are the [seat] sell-offs due to too many seats left. The demand is there," Handa said. "And I guess, due to the cold weather, the business has been pretty good."

Some Ottawa-area travellers trek to Syracuse, New York, to cash in on cheaper airfares including less taxes. But aviation analyst Ric Ericson says supply and demand is at work in the U.S. as well.

"We've seen a good deal of capacity come out of the American market. There's been consolidation among the six largest airlines. There's only three now, so prices are going up."

Ericson says the recent slide in the Canadian dollar will also bump up prices because fuel is calculated in U.S. dollars.