Fliers snap up half price seats

 

Prepare for takeoff, Australia.

Sales on 800,000 half-price airfares to 15 destinations hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic have commenced, with the airlines joining the party with cut-price deals and offers of their own.

The sales come as the tourism industry experiences a fresh tremor of uncertainty, with Brisbane in lockdown and a new case of COVID-19 in Byron Bay.

Industry sources said the Brisbane lockdowns had had an immediate impact, but bookings overall for Easter were strong.

Of the 800,000 discounted seats, which are all in economy, 260,000 are on Virgin flights and more than 500,000 are shared between Qantas and Jetstar.

The number of discounted seats available varies between destinations, with Virgin offering 85,000 flights to the Gold Coast and 10,000 to Cairns.

 

Two Qantas Aircraft at Sydney. The airline is releasing more cheap fares in addition to those subsidised by the federal government.
Two Qantas Aircraft at Sydney. The airline is releasing more cheap fares in addition to those subsidised by the federal government.

 

While the half-price tickets are on sale until July 31 (for flights from mid April up to September 30), from midnight last night Qantas was also set to release discounted fares to an additional 50 destinations across more than 200 routes. Tickets for flights under this offer (dubbed the "Everywhere Else" sale) will be available until April 8.

Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David said it was unfortunate the Brisbane lockdown had impacted some Easter plans, but it was a "temporary setback".

"Almost every destination that Qantas and Jetstar flies to is on sale, including plenty of chances to grab half price fares as part of the government's tourism stimulus package," Mr David said.

Virgin Australia announced it was extending the status of its Platinum and Good Velocity members by up to 18 months.

 

Tourism Minister Dan Tehan.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan.

 

 

CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the half-priced airfares would give regions a sense of hope and deliver a much-needed boost for thousands of tourism businesses.

"To ensure maximum flexibility under the program, we're also extending our flexible flying policy for all half-priced fare bookings. This is designed to ensure everyone can book with confidence knowing they'll definitely be able to make use of these great value tickets," she said.

Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said the government was expecting "huge demand" for the

cheap airfares.

"Every Australian who books a holiday will be supporting our tourism destinations that have

been hardest hit by the closure of international borders and every dollar spent on an

Australian holiday is a dollar that supports a local job and a local business," Mr Tehan said.

"We want Australians to do their patriotic duty and book a holiday this year through their

travel agent, and while they're away to eat at restaurants, go to the pubs, and book tours

and experiences to get money flowing into our tourism businesses."

 

The Gold Coast is one of 15 destinations set to benefit from the subsidised airfares, but the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Brisbane may delay their initial take-up.
The Gold Coast is one of 15 destinations set to benefit from the subsidised airfares, but the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Brisbane may delay their initial take-up.

 

But critics of the government's $1.2 billion aviation package, which will be supported by an $8 million advertising campaign, said it would do little to assist the tourism industry in Sydney and Melbourne.

In a joint statement, the Accommodation Association and Tourism Accommodation Australia said forward booking rates across Sydney and Melbourne properties were as low as 10 per cent over the next quarter.

"Given international travel is still a considerable way off, and the corporate travel market still marginal, this is not likely to improve any time soon," the organisations warned.

The destinations included in the half-price fare program are hoping it will make a substantial impact after a horror 12 months.

"We are still hoping for a strong Easter and April school holidays with flight numbers into the Gold Coast still climbing despite the Brisbane lockdown," Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O'Callaghan told News Corp.

"We are confident that the Federal Government's flights package program will be popular with Aussies looking to soak up a well-deserved holiday in the nation's most sought-after destination.

"The Gold Coast is open for business and we know these cut-price flights will be a catalyst in driving more hotel bookings from as early as today."

 

 

While some flights to Avalon will be subsidised, accommodation industry experts said there was little in the package to support the tourism industry in Melbourne itself. Picture: iStock
While some flights to Avalon will be subsidised, accommodation industry experts said there was little in the package to support the tourism industry in Melbourne itself. Picture: iStock

 

 

AUSTRALIA, IT'S TIME TO FLY

 

Jetstar fares include:

Adelaide-Avalon from $32 (Half Off Flights sale)

Sydney-Gold Coast from $44 (Half Off Flights sale)

Melbourne-Launceston from $40 (Half Off Flights sale)

Sydney-Ballina from $39 (Jetstar sale)

Melbourne-Gold Coast from $49 (Jetstar sale)

Sydney-Cairns from $69 (Jetstar sale)

 

Qantas fares include:

Adelaide-Melbourne from $88 (Half Off Flights sale)

Sydney-Sunshine Coast from $92 (Half Off Flights sale)

Canberra-Gold Coast from $95 (Half Off Flights sale)

Sydney-Melbourne from $99 (Qantas sale)

Melbourne-Newcastle from $109 (Qantas sale)

Sydney-Coffs Harbour from $109 (Qantas sale)

 

Virgin Australia fares include:

Sydney-Gold Coast from $60 (Tourism and Aviation support program)

Melbourne-Adelaide from $70 (Tourism and Aviation support program)

Melbourne-Launceston from $55 (Tourism and Aviation support program)

Sydney-Hobart from $80 (Tourism and Aviation support program)

Sydney-Sunshine Coast from $70 (Tourism and Aviation support program)

Melbourne-Launceston from $55 (Tourism and Aviation support program)

 

 

Terms and conditions apply for all flights. Visit the Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia websites for details.

Originally published as Fliers snap up half price seats



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