London trip fare game as China Southern cuts cost

Fare cuts: China's cheap flights have Qantas on the hop.
Fare cuts: China's cheap flights have Qantas on the hop. 

China Southern Airlines has declared an airfare war on flights to Europe, but you will have to be quick to get a cheap ticket.

The airline is is undercutting Qantas by as much as 50 per cent on the Sydney to London route.

China Southern managing director for Australia Henry He said the cheap prices will be offered for a limited time.

High price flyers: Qantas flights to London are 51 per cent more expensive than those offered by China Southern.
High price flyers: Qantas flights to London are 51 per cent more expensive than those offered by China Southern. 

Mr He said the airline was serious about establishing a foothold in the region and that it had offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

''We are here for the long term, although the cheap prices may only be for the short term,'' he said.

Qantas enters a new alliance with Emirates on April 1. Its Europe flights are scheduled to transit through Dubai instead of Singapore, while China Southern transits through its home city of Guangzhou.

Mr He said the flights to Europe were good value and offered full service. He said 18 Australian cabin crew had been hired to work on flights out of Australia.

A small hiccup for the airline is that a $98 stopover visa is required for Guangzhou if passengers wish to leave the terminal but an airline spokesman said it was hoped this would soon be waived, as has been the case in Shanghai and Beijing.

Qantas said it had research that showed most Australian air passengers want to transit through Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong on their way to Europe. ''Shanghai is a little further down the list; no other Chinese hubs made it on,'' a spokesman said.

China's three biggest carriers, which also include Air China and China Eastern Airlines, have tripled flights and upgraded services from Oceania to Europe over the past five years.

A Qantas spokesman said: ''We've been flying Australians to London for more than 50 years, and we've always evolved our services to match what customers have told us they want.

''We always monitor fares in the market and our focus is offering the best value. It is a very competitive market, travellers are better informed than ever and so we have to make sure our overall offering keeps pace."

Sydney to London - compare the pair

China Southern Airlines

Economy fare (for two-week trip starting May 4) $1442

Aircraft A330-300 to Guangzhou; A330-200 from Guangzhou to London.

Flight frequency 14 flights a week from Sydney, 10 flights from Melbourne.

Total flight time to London 23 hours.

Transit time in Guangzhou Three hours

In-flight entertainment Shared screens in cabin to Guangzhou; personal seatback screens from Guangzhou to London. Moveis, TV and music available in English and Mandarin.

Meals Included in ticket price. Choice of Chinese and Western food.

Drinks Alcoholic and non-alcoholic included in ticket price.

Leg room 32-inch seat pitch; 17.5 inch seat width.

Checked-In luggage allowance Two bags up to 23kg each.

QANTAS

Economy fare (for two-week trip starting May 4) $2180

Aircraft A380

Flight frequency Daily from Sydney and Melbourne

Total flight time to London 21 hrs 30 mins.

Transit time in Dubai QF1 1 hr 30 mins; QF9 1hr 45 mins.

In-flight entertainment Personal seatback screens with 1500 on-demand options including movies, TV, music.

Meals Included in ticket price.

Drinks Alcoholic and non-alcoholic included in ticket price.

Leg room 31-inch seat pitch; 18.1 inch seat width.

Checked-in luggage allowance No bag limit but total weight limit 30kg.

with Bloomberg

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