Venice air fares cut in half to Venice half

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The Independent Online
GO, THE cut-price subsidiary of British Airways, yesterday offered a new daily flight service to Venice for less than the cost of a return rail ticket from London to Manchester.

The service begins on December 8 with every seat on every flight available at pounds 80 return, including taxes, until February 11. This undercuts BA's own price by half and compares well with the pounds 108 cost of an open return from London to Manchester, known as the "Venice of the north".

The airline also begins twice-daily flights to Munich on November 25, with a third flight being added from December 8 on the same terms as for Venice. Stansted-based Go is also adding two flights on its Edinburgh- to-London route.

This, the latest salvo in a bitter European airfare war, was condemned yesterday by easyJet, the Luton-based budget airline, which is asking the British courts and the European Commission to declare Go's operation unlawful.

Yesterday easyJet presented a formal complaint to the commission asking it to investigate claims that British Airways is abusing its dominant market position through Go. It alleges Go's decision to slash its fare on some London-to-Edinburgh flights to pounds 40 is an example of predatory pricing.

The airline is worried a High Court action may not be heard until next spring. It believes BA effectively "bank-rolls" Go, leading to unfair competition under EU regulations.

But Go said it was confident the commission would find in its favour and revealed that a similar complaint made last year by Debonair over its Rome route had been rejected. Go started operations last summer.