Massive discounts as virus sparks airline price war


AIRLINES are shaving hundreds off tickets in a price war to lure customers and combat the coronavirus slump.

Flights between Brisbane and the US are at levels not seen since the 2009 global financial crisis, with Flight Centre offering an $819 return deal to Los Angeles.

Travellers to the UK can also get flights to London around $1000.


The discounted fares are part of a concerted effort from airlines to keep customers flying during the viral outbreak.

Graham Turner, boss of Queensland's Flight Centre Travel Group, said the coronavirus had sparked a "price war" and said prices were among the cheapest they had ever been.

"This week we advertised return fares from various Australian cities to the United States for less than $700 - lower than the fares that we offered during the GFC - as part of an extraordinary airfare price war between the airlines," he said.

Queensland's 123Travel has reported four cases of travellers cancelling trips due to the coronavirus threat, but owner Cheryl Ryan said the industry was not grinding to a halt.

"It's not enough for us to be too worried about," she said. "We've had a few cancellations but people still want to travel.

"People are just more cautious about the destinations."

Ms Ryan said the four cancellations were for people travelling to Italy, which has had a spike in coronavirus cases.

Ms Ryan said people were booking holidays in Australia.

"I don't think we'll see anybody going to Asia for a while," she said.

Mr Turner said the company would "aggressively promote travel to destinations that are not significantly affected - including Australia the Americas and the UK".

Soft demand has already hit some tourism companies. 

Virgin Australia on Wednesday tipped coronavirus would cost it between $55 million and $75 million in the second half of the financial year.

Flight Centre has also significantly downgraded its earnings for the second half of the financial year due to the virus.

Qantas tips coronavirus will cost the group between $100 million and $150 million in the second half.

Top Flight Centre deals

Brisbane to London: $1094

Brisbane to Los Angeles: $819

Brisbane to New York: $1164

Brisbane to Fiji: $525

Brisbane to Auckland: $378