It's a low-fare world

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...We're just flying in it. More and more, airlines like JetBlue and Ryanair should be looked at less as upstarts and more like big-time players in the industry. Recent news points out that the growth of smaller airlines isn't going to stop any time soon--and that the traditional airline business model is in trouble.

In the transatlantic market, Canadian carrier Zoom Airlines and Scotland's FlyGlobespan are expected to start flying from New York City (JFK) to London (Gatwick) and Liverpool, respectively, this June. Ryanair, the stalwart low-fare carrier with hubs all over Europe, recently said it also plans on getting in on the transatlantic market within a few years -- and get this, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary told a European trade publication that he expected to offer one-way fares crossing the Atlantic starting at all of $12!

Some small carriers are also buying out older, bigger airlines. Air Berlin, another low-fare carrier that focuses on flights within Europe, is buying German carrier LTU, which has long had a hub in Dusseldorf and flies to several U.S. cities. Brazilian's low-fare Gol Airlines announced it is buying out Varig, Brazil's leading but struggling international carrier, which has been in business since 1927. Finally, Virgin Blue, Richard Branson's low-fare carrier Down Under, has plans in the works to challenge Qantas and United on transpacific flights connecting the west coast of the U.S. to Australia. One day not too far in the future, that flight from LAX to Sydney may regularly cost $500, instead of the standard $1,000 and up folks have become accustomed to paying. --Brad Tuttle.

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