5 Cent Fares

Reporter: David Richardson

It's the smallest coin in our currency, but 5 cents doesn't buy you much these days. In your average lolly shop it's impossible to get the old 5 cent mixed bag of sweets. In fact even one lone ripe raspberry costs 11 cents. But believe it or not from 7pm tonight the humble five cent piece can buy an airline ticket.

Australia's low cost airline Jetstar has fired the first shot in the latest battle for a slice of the lucrative aviation market. With Singapore Airlines cheap carrier Tiger just days from entering the scene, with it's planned $10 fares, Jetstar is getting in first. Jetstar boss, Alan Joyce has 5,000 seats up for sale for just 5-cents. But if you're expecting those cheap fares on every route, think again, and it's only for the off peak winter period, when Jetstar has a lot of vacant seats.

The cheap fare is on the Sydney to Gold Coast run only. From Melbourne, the five cent fares will get you to Hobart, Melbourne to Launceston or north to Newcastle. And from Brisbane, they go to Rockhampton, Brisbane to Mackay or again to Newcastle.

The School of management at the Sydney University of Technology believes this pre-emptive strike by Jetstar is aimed at securing market dominance before Tiger's launch later this week. It's also part of a larger global chess game between international airline giants Qantas and Singapore Airlines who are battling for major chunks of the lucrative south east Asian market. The discount wars and peak Christmas period is the worst time for Australia's frequent flyers hoping to redeem a flight.

Clifford Rechlin from Frequent Flyer.com thinks it's safer to just hang on to your points until after the Christmas rush. As for our two major domestic airlines Qantas and Virgin Blue, their Christmas specials won't be announced for another three weeks. But according to the blueprints laid down last year expect some dramatically reduced ticket prices, some as low as $30 or $40 on the Sydney to Melbourne run.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.frequentflyer.com.au/