Something To Declare: Sydney; racism in Russia; India

Competition to Australia's largest city is even more intense since Virgin Atlantic started flying there.

Destination of the week: Sydney

Competition to Australia's largest city is even more intense since Virgin Atlantic started flying there. For travel at this time of year - late autumn in Australia - fares of below £600 are commonplace. But prices for later in the year are also on offer at rates well below usual levels.

One reason could be the charter flights operated by Austravel (0870 166 2005; www.austravel.com). They are intended to provide extra capacity at the most profitable time of year, over Christmas and New Year. But to fill the first few inbound flights, a good deal is available if you can travel to Australia between 1 September and 15 November, and return between 16 November and 11 December. For £449 you fly outbound on Malaysia Airlines from Heathrow or Manchester. The price allows a stop in Kuala Lumpur or, if you fly from Heathrow, Langkawi or Penang, en route to Sydney (or Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne or Perth). The inbound flight is on the charter to Gatwick from Perth or Sydney; you can upgrade to "Premium Class" on this flight for £250 more. Book by next Tuesday, 19 April.

In business class, discount agents have return fares from Heathrow to Sydney via Shanghai for under £1,400 on China Eastern; for flights before 21 June or from 1 September-9 December.

Warning of the week: racism in Russia

Next Wednesday, 20 April, marks 116 years since Adolf Hitler was born. The Foreign Office warns that: "Racially motivated attacks by racist 'skinhead' groups do occur in Russia," and that they are more common around the anniversary. "If you are of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent, we advise you to take extra care."

Simon Calder

Bargain of the week: cheap flights in India

After years of overpriced domestic air fares, India is finally catching up with Europe's low fares thanks to no-frills airlines such as Air Deccan. For just £12 including taxes, you can fly from Delhi to Jaipur ( www.airdeccan.com). Between Mumbai and Delhi, prices are around £40. Other companies are moving in: look out for Kingfisher and Spicejet later this year. With Virgin eager to enter the Indian market, prices could fall further.

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