News: more routes across US; new Jersey routes

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The Independent Travel

Travellers planning to fly internally within North America get an expanded range of options from this month.

More routes across US

Travellers planning to fly internally within North America get an expanded range of options from this month. On 9 May, Southwest starts flying domestically from Philadelphia, accessible from Heathrow on British Airways and from Gatwick on US Airways. The world's leading no-frills airline will fly to Chicago Midway, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa Bay and Providence - which the airline likes to call a gateway to Boston.

Meanwhile, jetBlue is flying from its new hub in "real" Boston. It uses Logan airport, which is only a couple of miles from downtown (and easily reached from London Heathrow and Manchester), for cheap flights to Florida and elsewhere. And traditional carriers are trying to cash in on the low-cost business. Delta Airlines has expanded its no-frills offshoot, Song, whose main base is at New York JFK - as is jetBlue's. On routes where they compete, Song's fares are typically a few dollars cheaper than jetBlue.

To keep costs down, the usual no-frills rules apply: book online and in advance, and aim for off-peak flights: departures very early or very late, or in the middle of the day. Try to avoid travelling on Fridays and Sundays afternoon - but, if you can't, then hope that Southwest flies the route.

Its maximum one-way fare anywhere on its network, for example Providence to Oakland for San Francisco, is $299 (£184).

jetBlue: www.jetblue.com

Song: www.song.com

Southwest: www.southwest.com

* As Fidel Castro moves closer to his 80th year, US airlines are jostling for position for the expected rush of flights to Cuba. At present, American law does not allow scheduled flights between the US and the island. But jetBlue has plans to fly to Havana as soon as the US government allows direct services to begin. For British travellers, a key advantage of the end of the US boycott on flights to the island will be the chance easily to combine Florida and Cuba on the same holiday.

Jersey services add to crowded skies

Air space over the Channel is getting congested, with new routes to and from Jersey starting up, and fares falling from airports across Britain.

The largest of the Channel Islands was chosen for the inaugural flight from Coventry on Thomsonfly, and Jersey could soon be welcoming planes from another "start-up" airport, Brighton City - or Shoreham aerodrome, as it used to be known.

From Bristol, two airlines have started flying the route in competition with British Airways: FlyBE and Aurigny. Return fares at £68 are widely available, which is far lower than a year ago. If you are prepared to fly via Plymouth on Air Southwest, you can save a further £10.

Aurigny, owned by the States of Guernsey, is challenging BA on the Manchester to Jersey route. This was once a BA monopoly - and, as a result of the competition, the cheapest return fare has fallen to £79. The new routes follow Aurigny's launch of flights to Jersey from Stansted and Bournemouth.

The only route from Jersey that does not enjoy robust competition is the inter-island link with Guernsey. At present it is a near-monopoly of the States of Guernsey-owned airline, Aurigny. FlyBE is allowed to carry standby passengers, but tickets on its services cannot be booked in advance.

Aurigny: 01481 822886, www.aurigny.com

Air Southwest: 0870 241 8202, www.airsouthwest.com

British Airways: 0870 850 9 850, www.ba.com

FlyBE: 0871 700 0123, www.flybe.com

Rockhopper: 01481 824567, www.rockhopper.aero

Thomsonfly: 0870 1900 737, www.thomsonfly.com

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