SOURCE: 1st-Air.Net

February 27, 2009 02:13 ET

1st-Air.Net Reports 'New Economy' Means Buyers Market for Premium Class Travel

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - February 27, 2009) - As the global economy continues to sputter, international premium class fares have plummeted on several routes. 1st-Air.Net (www.1st-air.net) reports that several airlines have slashed premium class fares as much as 50% within the last four months. The strong U.S. dollar has also created offshore buying opportunities for savvy travelers.

For example, Singapore Airlines has slashed its roundtrip business class fares between San Francisco and Seoul by over 50% from $6,016 in November 2008 to $3,000. Singapore Airlines has also reduced roundtrip fares on its popular all business class Newark-Singapore nonstop, from $8,311 in November 2008 to $5,564. The current prices levels are for travel commencing by March 31st, 2009.

Fare reductions and significantly relaxed booking requirements can also be found between the U.S. and Europe. For example, in November 2008 the lowest published business class fare between Los Angeles and Paris on Air France with a 14-day advance purchase was $9,648 roundtrip. Today, the same route on Air France sells for $3,424 with a 14-day advance purchase and Z class availability.

Other premium class values have been created by the surge in the U.S. dollar. International travelers that want to try the Airbus A380 at significant savings may consider one-way fares from Vietnam to Los Angeles or San Francisco with Singapore Airlines. The carrier currently publishes a one-way business class fare of $1,588 plus taxes on this route that allows travelers to fly on the Airbus A380 on the Singapore-Tokyo sector of the trip. According to 1st-Air.Net, the same one-way business class ticket originating in Singapore is over $4,000 plus taxes.

1st-Air.Net also reports that some savvy travelers are using reduced business class fares from the U.S. as a stepping-stone to other countries. Once abroad, they originate more complex itineraries such as around-the-world tickets at reduced fare levels. As an example, the One World Alliance three continent around-the-world fare originating in the U.S. is currently $7,740 plus taxes. The same three continent around-the-world fare originating in Korea currently equates to US$3,411 plus taxes. However, savvy travelers are able to purchase a one-way business class ticket with Singapore Airlines from the west coast to Seoul for $1,800, and then originate an around-the-world ticket from Seoul. The combined cost of both tickets is $5,211, or 33% less than the U.S. fare level of $7,740. In addition to lower travel costs, travelers will end up with a business class ticket back to Korea for use within 12 months of their initial departure date.

Many of the lower business class fares cited are scheduled to expire by mid-April 2009. A telling tale for international airlines and travelers will be if carriers decide to extend these reduced prices into the spring and summer months or revert to the higher price points last seen at year end 2008. Stay tuned.

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