Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In the air (part 1 of 2): Paris anyone?

WARNING: A sudden longing for French wine, crêpe, 300 different types of cheese may overtake you!

If you left Halifax on September 5th, and returned September 26th, you could go to Paris for just over $600 (in comparison, a trip to Toronto costs just under $500 in September). This is new (and very dangerous to our budget): Zoom Airlines just added a direct flight to Paris. Prices start as low as $199 each way plus surcharges and taxes. This is the first time since I arrived in Halifax that the price of domestic and international fights have been so close.

Two trends have led to this convergence: (i) in the domestic market, Canjet's and Jetsgo's closure have lead to higher prices: fewer suppliers have increased the market power of Air Canada and Westjet; (ii) Zoom, a welcome addition, has been adding flights from Canada to Europe (Tasya and I flew with them in 2005 via Montreal, and it was great!): they want more global market share and lower prices will give them my business.

Most Canadians love Europe (or at least some mystical idea of Europe); cheap and high quality wines, cheeses, museums and architecture. A place that many of us have only encountered through our grade 10 history text or maybe Google Earth. Now: it is cheaper than ever to be snubbed by a French waiter ("I sat there in this little cafe, I tried to speak but nothing came out, then he said: 'What do you want?' - it was cold") The combination of the high Canadian dollar and cheaper flights to Europe mean it's possible to go to Paris for short holiday. Back home, Canadian tourism destinations will have to work harder to keep domestic travelers coming to their coastal B&Bs or to see a Jays' game. Europe is calling.

Iceland Air resumed service to Halifax as of May 17th.
Zoom Airlines also offers flights to Belfast, London and Glasgow out of Halifax for the same rock bottom prices.

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