Trans-Pacific routes getting cheaper

by Ella FAIRCHILD on July 31, 2009

Major airlines are fighting the biggest war in 15 years over the lucrative Pacific route linking the US and Australia. According to a ChannelNewsAsia report, carriers are slashing prices and offering special deals after Delta Air Lines has formed a joint-venture alliance with Virgin Blue Group, which includes long-haul unit V Australia.

The route has long been dominated by Qantas and United Airlines, following a pullout by Continental and Northwest in the early 1990s. With the new competition for customers, fares are touching all-time lows, and are now less than half what they were a year ago.

“I think (fares are) probably about as low as they’ve ever been. It’s not just the competition and the arrival on the route of V-Australia and Delta,” said Tom Ballantyne, chief correspondent for Orient Aviation magazine. “It’s fantastic for consumers — but very bad for airlines”.

With ticket prices falling, it seems that there may be fewer excuses not to go see what down under has to offer the canny tourist. Apart from the Opera House, Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef, why not check out the nude beach Olympics, the transcontinental railroad (now you can choose north-south as well as east-west), or go trekking in the Blue Mountains – but take your cell phone with you, just in case.

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