The global outbreak of coronavirus is crushing the profit margins of airlines as fewer passengers take the risk of travelling internationally.
It's undeniably riskier to fly to places like China, Iran and Italy right now – and that is driving down prices.
Locally, domestic flights so far seem to be relatively unscathed, but there's major bargains on offer for one-way international travel: Jetstar is currently offering Sydney to Vietnam tickets from $176, Sydney to Bali from $209 and to Sydney to Phuket flying business from $599.
Qantas is offering flights to New Zealand from $378 and Virgin Australia is offering economy return flights from Sydney to Fiji from $599 and return flights to Los Angeles from $879.
Return trips to Japan can be picked up for as low as $502 per person according to cheapflights.com.au if you're willing to pack your bags and leave in the next week or two.
Compared to other markets, Australia's cut-price airfares are relatively demure.
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Frontier Airlines in the US is offering New York to Miami return journeys for $51, while Delta is offering equally rock-bottom seats such as Chicago to San Francisco for $137 or New York to London for $480.
Passenger shortfalls, restricted air routes and general panic about leaving the house threatens to cripple airlines which aren't bolstered with domestic routes.
Europe's largest regional airline Flybe collapsed into administration yesterday, with the business partly blaming the virus for its downfall.
"I do appreciate how distressing this news is and the shock and numbness that you will be feeling," Flybe chief executive Mark Anderson said in an email to staff.
"The coronavirus has impacted both our shareholders and ourselves and has put additional pressure on an already difficult situation."
Analysis by the International Air Transport Association shows that if COVID-19 continues to spread, global airlines stand to lose ($USD 113 billion) $171.12 billion.
Doug Parker, CEO of the world's biggest airline in American Airlines, says from a business perspective discounting flights will only work if they can fill planes.
It doesn't make sense for us to fly the airplane there and back and burn the fuel because there's just not enough people," Mr Parker told the US Chamber of Commerce.
Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, echoed his sentiment.
"This isn't economic in the sense that people want to travel but they can't afford to," said Mr Kelly.
"We could discount prices tomorrow and it wouldn't do any good."
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This morning the World Health Organisation urged governments around the world to pull out "all the stops" to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"This is not a drill. This is not the time for giving up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a daily briefing in Geneva.
"Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans."
To date, the virus has infected nearly 97,000 people and killed more than 3,300.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-cheap-flights-qantas-virgin-jetstar-airlines-recoup-lost-sales/8ef0faf7-5616-4ee5-a331-7a37c6c4abe3