Airline offers tax-only flights in fares war

A LEADING no-frills airline is warning of a fare war of "bloodbath" proportions over the next two months. A week after a low-fare airline went bust, Tim Jeans of Ryanair said prospective customers were saving their money for millennium celebrations. "We are having to give seats away to fill our planes," he said yesterday.

A LEADING no-frills airline is warning of a fare war of "bloodbath" proportions over the next two months. A week after a low-fare airline went bust, Tim Jeans of Ryanair said prospective customers were saving their money for millennium celebrations. "We are having to give seats away to fill our planes," he said yesterday.

The UK's cut-price airlines are taking delivery of new Boeing 737 aircraft at the rate of one a month. Awash with capacity, the carriers are being forced to flood the market with cheap fares. Ryanair is offering one-way flights to Europe to anyone prepared to pay just the tax and passenger service charge of £15, while some rivals have cut UK domestic fares to their lowest levels for 30 years.

"The fare war is being fought out by us offering free flights, and easyJet and Go selling Internet specials," said Mr Jeans. Ryanair hopes to persuade most passengers to buy slightly more expensive return flights to allow Ryanair to make a small profit on most bookings rather than sell at a loss. Even so, industry experts do not believe a profit can be made on fares as low as £40 return to Frankfurt and Turin.

Fierce competition forced Debonair to cease trading a week ago, but its demise does not appear to have affected fares. Debonair was much smaller than its rivals and flew to obscure airports such as Cergy-Pontoise near Paris, Monchengladbach in Germany and Perugia in Italy.

Its withdrawal leaves easyJet as the only Luton-based low-cost airline. Yesterday easyJet claimed to be the first airline in the world to take a majority of its bookings on the Internet. "In the past week we've sold 60 per cent of seats through the Internet", a spokesman said. The airline offers what it claims is the lowest air fare in Europe - £26 return on its new route between Luton and Liverpool.

In common with Ryanair and British Airways' no-frills offshoot Go, easyJet offers a discount to Internet users, reflecting the savings made in comparison with telephone sales. "If we can make 20 or 30 pence per head at this time of year we're happy," said an easyJet spokesman. The airline's usual profit margin is £1.70 per passenger.

Go, based at Stansted, is selling seats for as little as £35 return to Edinburgh and £50 return to Munich and Milan. About £20 of this goes straight to government and airport operators. Go's rivals claim BA is subsidising its offshoot to try to drive out the competition.

KLM UK, which has suffered most from no-frills competition, plans to launch its own low-cost operation. The new carrier, Buzz, will increase competition at Stansted. The Essex airport is also a hub for Virgin Express, which next month begins serving Berlin.

Long-haul flights are also being sold at some of their lowest fares yet. Yesterday KLM began selling flights from Gatwick via Amsterdam to California for £202 return. Airtours was offering charter tickets from Gatwick and Manchester to Sydney for £429 return.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style
i100

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week