BA cuts Europe fares by half

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The Independent Online
BRITISH AIRWAYS yesterday fired the latest salvo in the bitter air fares war, slashing the cost of flying to six European cities by up to half.

Go, BA's low-cost airline, is cutting its pounds 100 standard fare to pounds 60 for Rome, Lisbon and Bologna and to pounds 50 for Milan and Copenhagen. Flights to Edinburgh are being cut from pounds 70 to pounds 40. However the offer applies to travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and must include a two- night stay. It is available from today until 10 December.

The announcement came as Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline declared a price war on BA, cutting its long-haul prices by 50 per cent.

Go's move will be seen as an attack on Virgin Express, Mr Branson's European airline, as well as other no-frills European carriers such as Ryanair, Debonair and easyJet, which yesterday criticised the offer.

A spokesman for easyJet, which has launched legal action against BA claiming it was trying to put its rivals out of business, said: "It is BA using predatory pricing to no avail.

"They have misunderstood the market and therefore will continue to fly empty planes."

Franco Mancassola, the chief executive of Debonair, said he had not decided whether to respond to Go's cut but insisted he already offered a better quality service. "I wish airlines would enter into a fair fares war based on quality rather than on the financial strength of the company."

A Go spokeswoman denied BA was carrying out predatory pricing and said the offer was designed to test demand on those routes. "We are trying to stimulate the market and are trying to encourage people to fly and we are giving them the opportunity to do it," she said.

Luton-based easyJet competes with Go on the Edinburgh route where it charges pounds 48 return for flights booked a fortnight in advance. Debonair offers a flexible fare of pounds 100.