Although invented in the U.S., the low-fare airline model is catching on worldwide. See below for a list of low-fare airlines by region.
The domestic airline scene in Canada has been chaotic since Air Canada’s bankruptcy. Calgary-based low-fare line WestJet is doing well; Air Canada formed not one but two separate low-fare lines (Tango and Zip), although Tango was re-combined with mainline Air Canada. Two other newcomers include CanJet and JetsGo. While CanJet seem to be surviving, JetsGo ceased operations in March. Zoom flies from major Canadian cities to the Caribbean and Europe. Give one of these lines a try if you need cheap flights within Canada.
Dublin-based Ryanair and London/Luton-based easyJet are both vying to be “The Southwest of Europe,” and both are off to good starts. Originally based in the British Isles, both lines are developing secondary hubs in Continental Europe. They make extensive use of low-cost (and usually low-convenience) secondary airports, including London/Luton, London/Stansted, Charleroi for Brussels, Hahn for Frankfurt, and such; but they also fly to major airports in other cities. Unlike most U.S. low-fare lines, however, their cheapest tickets are “you buy it, you own it” with no refunds if you have to cancel.
Several other European low-fare lines are in various stages of development. Among the more advanced:
- Air Berlin flies from major German cities to a few other business destinations.
- BMI British Midland has just spun off a new low-fare subsidiary, bmibaby, flying from UK airports outside of London to diverse European cities.
- Germanwings flies from Cologne/Bonn to much of Europe.
- Virgin Express flies from a Brussels hub to much of Europe.
Many even smaller European low-fare airlines focus on routes from major cities in the North to Mediterranean resort cities, rather than to business destinations. Also, if you thought seating was tight on U.S. lines, wait until you try to shoehorn yourself into a seat on some of the foreign low-fare planes. Meanwhile, the European network legacy lines have been slashing unrestricted or lightly restricted fares to compete with the influx of low-cost lines.
Asia and the Pacific
Other low-fare lines include: AirAsia (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Macau), Air Do (Japan), Freedom Air (Australia to New Zealand), JAL Express (Japan), Skymark (Japan), Tiger Airways (Thailand and Singapore), and Virgin Blue (Australia). And for every line flying, you can bet there is a handful of wannabes.
Read this and other travel tips geared towards business travelers at Smarter Travel’s MyBusinessTravel.com, run by Ed Perkins.