The travel industry's "early bird" sales for next year are under way with one agent offering return flights to London on Air New Zealand for just over $1400 and another slashing business class fares by $1000.

While the early bird sales season is not as defined as in the past, it is still an important way for airlines to guarantee early on they have partly filled planes — and banked passengers' fares.

Flight Centre has on sale return economy fares to London Heathrow for $1429, Amsterdam $1499 and Paris for $1599 for travel between next January and July.

Sean Berenson, Flight Centre NZ general manager product, said the London fare was one of the lowest he had seen for Air New Zealand.


With its partners, the airline is also flying into Amsterdam and Barcelona for $1499 and Zurich, Rome, Manchester, Paris and Frankfurt for $1599.

Helloworld has cut $1000 off business class seats to Britain and Europe, $500 off premium economy and $200 off economy.

The discounts apply to popular full-service airlines Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qantas and Singapore Airlines for travel from October this year.

Simon McKearney, executive general manager of helloworld said the significant "cash off" at any level of seat and/or travel period gave the consumer the flexibility to work through their itinerary that suits them.

"The key with early birds is the availability and hence the catch phrase. The best seats and timings always get snapped up."

Flight Centre's Berenson said in the past that the early bird season had traditionally been in November.

"However over the last three to fours years, largely due to competition in the market, at Flight Centre we've noticed early bird season progressively move forward and now many deals are released late August," he said.

Cruising in Europe was becoming increasingly popular and he said Kiwis should be booking cruises and tours for Europe 2019 summer.


"What's great about early bird season is that it not only can travellers save money in the short term on their airfare, but it also books in the cruise, accommodation or tour of their choice well in advance."

Berenson said there would be a variety of destinations that are different from the traditional European getaway.

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777 at Auckland Airport. Photo / Grant Bradley
An Air New Zealand Boeing 777 at Auckland Airport. Photo / Grant Bradley

Destinations in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe had become a much more accessible holiday option with airfares to this part of the world more affordable than ever.

"This is largely due to the increase in new carriers and routes we've seen join the market in recent years, particularly airlines such as Qatar, Etihad and Emirates, whose networks span widely across all of Europe."

He said travellers should be wary of making the mistake of waiting.

"If you see a good deal make sure to book, before the fare class, tour or cruise cabin you're after sells out."

House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas also warned finding flights out of New Zealand could be tricky despite the increase air capacity. Pressure on finding seats is a problem at peak times around school holidays, then over Christmas until around March and then the northern summer peak.

"There are so many more people coming in to this country to see New Zealand - finding flights [out] can be quite tricky," he said.

He said sale fares would range between $1400 and $1700 return to Europe.

"That is unbelievably good value when you compare it to what you pay to go to the Pacific Rim. Our forward volumes are materially up - we can already see the UK and Europe are exceptionally popular."

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