Interstate travellers will be able to take advantage of a new round of cut price fares as Virgin Blue and Qantas go up against each other in a renewal of the battle for the domestic travel dollar.
A new round of budget fares are set to begin in December, with Jetstar planning to add 820,000 seats to its domestic services over the next year with more than half of them from Melbourne.
News of this latest move surfaced late yesterday and follows an earlier declaration of war by Virgin Blue on Qantas when they announced a tie-up with Middle East carrier Etihad for flights to Europe and a decision to use larger planes with better equipped passenger cabins on its Perth to east coast route.
Victorians and South Australians appear likely to be the big winners from Jetstar's extra seats offer, with current services between Melbourne and Adelaide increasing by 21 extra flights a week.
Jetstar chief Bruce Buchanan has described the offer as "great news for our customers", adding that it demonstrated a "commitment to low fares, greater frequencies and convenient schedules".
Analysts yesterday said it could prove to be a risky strategy by Jetstar in taking revenue from Qantas flights while the main line carrier also comes under attack from Virgin.
Under the plan Jetstar will operate more than 350 return flights a week from Melbourne and Avalon with at least 310 of them from Melbourne Airport.
By Christmas, Melbourne Airport will also support up to six Jetstar international markets, with recently announced growth to Auckland with seven weekly flights and Queenstown two weekly flights plus a wide-bodied jet service to Singapore.
The intention is that domestic services from Melbourne will include three flights a day to Brisbane, three to Adelaide, and 28 a week to Newcastle from early December.
Price wars between carriers are always a benefit to travellers particularly holiday makers as the best prices are often achieved by making bookings a few months in advance, so these latest announcements have been made early enough for some real savings to be made.