Departures: Aussie fare rise

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The Independent Travel
LAST Monday Qantas and Singapore Airlines announced a substantial increase in their discounted fares to Australia with effect from 1 July. The cheapest return fare to Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Adelaide and Brisbane has increased from pounds 689 to pounds 899 (July-September) and pounds 919 (October-November).

Over the past six months, both airlines have been engaged in a bitter struggle, each undercutting the other. With its pounds 689 return, for example, Qantas also offered travellers a free flight within Australia. Now, as well as increasing its fare, Qantas has dropped the free flight and no longer allows a stopover en route.

David Orkin, director of discount fare specialist Quest Worldwide (081-547 3322), says it is not so much that fares have gone up but that they've gone back to the level of last year. 'Qantas runs two flights a day from London to Sydney, Singapore Airlines has two flights a day to Singapore. If they can't fill the planes we may see a return to the fares war,' he added.

While the major airlines are seeking an increase in fares, cheap deals are still available with secondary carriers such as Garuda. For example, this week Trailfinders (071-938 3366) announced a return fare to Sydney via Indonesia for pounds 594. The fare allows stopovers in Jakarta, Jogjakarta and Bali.

For departures in May, Austravel (071-734 7755) is offering a round-the-world fare for pounds 768. It offers travel to Australia with Qantas with two stops in Hong Kong, Bali, Singapore or Bangkok; two internal flights in Australia; return travel to London via Los Angeles with Qantas and Virgin with two stops in Honolulu, Fiji or Tahiti.