12 January 2005

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Cheap airfares remain subject to first-come-first-served basis

By Matthew Vella

Airline prices remain subject to first-come-first-served pricing options, as a follow-up to last week’s report on airline prices to major European destinations in The Malta Financial and Business Times shows.
Whilst prices quoted last week by leading airlines operating from Malta found national operator Air Malta maintaining some of the cheapest flights to three major European destinations, namely London, Rome and Frankfurt, this newspaper has confirmed with the Air Malta sales office that cheap price options are limited to a number of seats allocated throughout each flight by the airline’s yield office.
In a further clarification to last week’s report, this newspaper has confirmed that the Air Malta pricing system, economy class fares are grouped into different types, namely S, W, K, T, V, L, for each aircraft.
In the case of a Malta-London Gatwick-Malta flight, these ‘flexi-fly’ fares start at the cheapest, S-class price of Lm102,92, which includes Lm25.02 in taxes. However, according to the Air Malta sales office, these seats are limited to just a number of seats.
Sales director Anton Agius said these seats are allocated according to the airline’s demands to meet costs for operating the aircraft, or other destination costs.
The flexi-fly range works on a first-come-first-served basis, meaning that current economy class prices for a return flight to London Gatwick start at Lm102.02 in S-class and go up to Lm186.02 in L-class. A club class ticket for the same flight Lm251.22, including taxes.
Return flights to Rome with Air Malta also start at Lm71 (Lm92.92 including taxes) in S-class, and can go up to Lm172.92 in L-class. A club class ticket costs Lm234.92 including taxes.
All prices remain subject to a first-come-first-served basis, indicating that only a limited number of seats, possibly anything between five and ten, are subject to the cheapest price on offer.
Alitalia director Edward Magro told The Malta Financial and Business Times that the airline’s economy class fare to Rome currently stands at Lm60, excluding taxes, until 31 March 2005, when new pricing will be applicable as from 1 April, which could be lower or higher than the current offer.
At present, Alitalia prices to Rome on economy class stand at Lm88.92, including taxes and fuel surcharge of Lm28.92. Club class prices are at Lm234.92.
“All economy fares are non-refundable and carry a minimum and maximum stay regulation. The number of seats available on each flight varies and is controlled by a highly sophisticated computerised system based on yield management, historical data, supply and demand and various other factors.”
Other Alitalia prices quoted included those to Frankfurt, where a return flight in economy class starts at Lm96, with Lm48.22 in taxes, totalling Lm144.22, with a club class ticket totalling Lm343.22.
The Air Malta fare for a return flight to Frankfurt starts from the economy class fare Lm100.92 in S-class and can go up to Lm200.02 in L. A club class ticket would cost Lm262.02.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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