Something To Declare: Australia; Warsaw and Krakow; "James Bond" cable car out of action

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The Independent Travel

The traditional low season for flights to Australia and New Zealand usually sees some tactical seat sales in January, but the fare cuts offered by Malaysia Airlines until next Wednesday, 19 January, are even lower than expected.

Destination of the week: Australasia from April-June

The traditional low season for flights to Australia and New Zealand usually sees some tactical seat sales in January, but the fare cuts offered by Malaysia Airlines until next Wednesday, 19 January, are even lower than expected. From 27 March until the end of June, you can fly from London or Manchester via Kuala Lumpur to Perth for just £429 return - barely 2p per mile. The fare to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney is around £495, and the same price applies to Auckland. You can book through a wide range of discount agents - the fares above apply to Quest Travel (0870 442 3513; www.questtravel.com). As with all Malaysia Airlines flights between the UK and Australasia you can stop over in Kuala Lumpur for free; Penang and Langkawi are also options from London.

Bargain of the week: Warsaw and Krakow

Another year, another budding Polish airline. Following the demise of Air Polonia a month ago, an offshoot of LOT Polish Airlines called Centralwings (00 48 801 45 45 45; www.centralwings.com) is to begin flying from Gatwick to Warsaw and Krakow on 1 February. Its president, Piotr Kociolek, appears to be a bit of an aviation romantic - he says: "The moment when the plane is taking off is a magical moment which... evokes shivers of emotions".

Lead-in fares are £55 return to Warsaw, £60 to Krakow. Note that British Airways and LOT itself are offering flights for rates that are not much higher, providing you book in advance and avoid peak-hour flights; Centralwings is likely to be much cheaper for short-notice journeys at busy times.

As with Air Polonia and other defunct airlines, passengers buying direct from the airline have little financial protection, but Centralwings' large and relatively stable "mother airline" should provide some reassurance.

By Simon Calder

Warning of the week: "James Bond" cable car out of action

The cable car link to the Schilthorn alpine peak, which featured in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, will be off-limits until 12 March. The service, which runs between the Schilthorn and the popular Bernese Oberland ski resort of Mürren, has been out of action since 29 December when damage to a cable was discovered. Five of Mürren's 13 ski lifts will remain closed until the cable car is running again, which is due to be in mid-March. Until then, skiers are being offered a 30 per cent discount on passes.

The problem has also changed the route of the Inferno ski race, the oldest downhill ski event in the world, to be held this year on 22 January.

Matthew Allen

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