Fare War Breaks Out at LAX

Thanks to Virgin America, ticket prices dip as fuel prices soar
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Mar 3, 2008 11:25 AM CST
In this photo released by Virgin America, Virgin Group founder and chairman Sir Richard Branson is welcomed by San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders upon arrival in San Diego, Calif. after the 'first flight'...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Even as fuel prices soar, Los Angeles airline passengers are enjoying an old-fashioned fare war sparked by newcomer Virgin America, the LA Times reports. Sir Richard Branson's brainchild has drawn United, Alaska, Southwest, and even longtime LAX holdout JetBlue into a feud that's seen one-way fares as low as $44. "We've become a hotbed of competition," says an airport exec.

Virgin America entered the market in August, and dropping prices soon followed. Fares to some destinations have fallen nearly 50%, and experts see the trend continuing: Virgin wants to expand from three routes to 30 in 3 years. The interloper features in-flight chatrooms and mood lighting, but because its appeal to the lucrative business traveler is uncertain, so are its long-term prospects, analysts say.