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Low Cost Airlines
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Low Cost Airlines

Low cost carriers (LCC) or Low Cost Airlines - popularly known as 'no frills airlines' due to the low cost flights they offer - first developed in 1949 in the USA but only gathered momentum in the 90s with aviation deregulation. Today, low cost carriers make up about 20 per cent of the global airline market, and are growing rapidly. Typically a low cost carrier has the following business model:

  • Economy class only
  • Offer one-way levels
  • Have smaller aircraft that fly shorter distances (NB: new concepts are being developed to offer longer flight options)
  • Offer unreserved seating or no pre-allocated seating
  • Fly to secondary airports to take advantage of lower landing fees
  • Unbundle ancillary charges
  • Book only or primarily through the internet

Low cost airlines also have limited services to a destination and have low operating costs. Their popularity has taken full-service carriers by surprise and, while their initial response was to compete with these carriers, most of them have started their own no frills service under a different brand name.

What to expect when taking a low cost airline

Low cost carriers can offer cheap flights but they will make money by charging for meals onboard, booking over the phone, changing your booking and exceeding baggage limits. Conditions of carriage on low cost airlines can differ vastly from a full-service carrier, making the fine print essential reading. Low cost airlines can represent good value for money; however check with your Flight Centre consultant to ensure you are booking the right airport connections most suited to your itinerary. We highly recommend buying a comprehensive travel insurance policy.

Below are some of the popular low cost airline carriers by region, and what to expect when flying on them.


There are over 50 low cost carriers in Europe and they constitute about 30 per cent of the available airline seats, making it the biggest low cost carrier market in the world. Below are some of the main carriers and their country of origin:

  • Ryan Air - Ireland
  • Easyjet - UK
  • bmiBaby - UK
  • Maersk air - Denmark
  • AirOne - Italy
  • click air - Spain
  • Wizz Air - Poland

North America

The second biggest market for no frills airlines, with Southwest airlines leading the way in this space. Some of the other carriers are:

  • Jet Blue
  • Westjet
  • Frontier airline
  • Jazz
  • VivaAeroBus
  • Spirit Airline


Mainly based out of South Africa. The main carriers are:

  • Kulula
  • Mango
  • 1time


This is the fastest growing market for low cost carriers. Some of the popular options are:

  • Air Asia - Malaysia
  • Nok Air - Thailand
  • Tiger Airways - Singapore
  • Spring Air - China
  • Jet lite - India
  • Lion Air - Indonesia

Middle East

Mainly out of Saudi Arabia. These carriers include:

  • Jazeera
  • Air Arabia
  • Nas Air


Operating within New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.

  • Pacific Blue
  • Virgin Blue
  • Jetstar
  • Tiger Airways
  • Viva Macau

*Prices are in NZD and subject to availability. Please refer to specific product's terms and conditions.

Applies to genuine airfare quotes from airlines and New Zealand registered businesses and websites for international flights departing from New Zealand. Excludes domestic airfares. Quote must be in writing, in New Zealand dollars, inclusive of all credit card fees, finance merchant fees, booking fees and taxes, and must be presented to us prior to booking. Airfare must be available and able to be booked by the general public when you bring it to us. It must also be for the same dates, flight routing, flight class and number of people. Airfares available due to membership of a group or corporate entity or subscription to a closed group are excluded. Full terms & conditions.

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