A new airfare war is expected after Cathay Pacific announced an economy seat sale with fares as low as $1331 return to Europe.
The Hong Kong-based airline’s move comes after sales on fares from Qantas and Virgin Australia.
According to industry expert, Amity Travel’s Luke Chittock, airlines have continued with sales that normally finish in January and are selling low-season fares into high-season travel dates.
“These are the best fares I have ever seen this far into the year from a top-line carrier,” he said.
The Cathay sale runs until April 24 for travel from May 1 to November 30. Return fares start from $675 to Asia and $1331 to Europe, while New York costs $1441 and Vancouver $1477.
Mr Chittock said it is highly likely that other airlines will respond to match Cathay’s fares.
Virgin Australia’s seat sale has return fares from Perth to Los Angeles starting at $1225.
It also has domestic specials such as one-way to Adelaide at $159, Melbourne $179, Brisbane $189, Broome $222 and Cairns $285.
The Virgin Australia seat sale ends on March 27 and fares include meals, beverage, entertainment and luggage.
Qantas has fare sales in progress that end at various dates from March 28, with return fares from Perth to San Francisco for $1097, Singapore $499, Honolulu $1137 and Las Vegas $1355.
Most Australian destinations are also on sale.
And the international bargains are expected to keep flowing with Emirates president Tim Clark saying that the world’s traditional long-haul airlines face a “gathering storm” as a new breed of long-haul low cost airlines such as Scoot target inter-continental routes.
“At the back end of ’90s I did a paper on long-haul low-cost and everyone laughed at me, but what I predicted then has finally started to happen,” Mr Clark told media at a recent industry event in Berlin.
In 2005 Mr Clark predicted that airlines would eventually use the giant A380 as a 800-seat all economy aircraft as a super low cost travel machine.
He envisaged a flight from the UK to Australia utilising lower cost airports such as London’s Stansted and at the time Adelaide.