Prices for Christmas return air tickets to London have sunk to HK$2,800 as two major airlines launch special deals. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have each launched the Christmas special fare for flights taking off between December 24 and 26. Tickets at other times will cost HK$3,450. Cathay Pacific has also launched an 'early bird special' for Britain and European cities via London priced at HK$3,650. Hong Tai Travel general manager Susanna Lau Mei-sze said airlines had special offers from time to time but prices for tickets to London had never gone below HK$3,000 over Christmas. She said the increase in the supply of flights to London could be the reason for the new low price. 'Oasis and Air New Zealand have also entered the market. The overall supply has increased.' British Airways and Virgin denied the strategy was a reaction to the launch of budget airline Oasis, which sells a one-way ticket to London for HK$1,000. They said that they were only reacting to the market situation. 'We have not made such a cheap offer since Sars, when tickets cost HK$2,500. But it was a special case. We never reduce our ticket prices,' said a Virgin spokeswoman. 'Most of the flights for December have been booked because students are returning for their holidays. But we still have some tickets on promotion. These tickets are best for visiting relatives.' She said Virgin's tickets were valid for 30 days. Oasis Airlines sales and marketing general manager Raymond Ng To-wing said flights leaving between December 24 and 26 were usually quite full. He did not believe competitors' discounting was related to Oasis. Mr Ng said that Oasis would increase its prices from December 15. 'We will save 10 per cent of the seats for each flight and sell them at HK$1,000. But other than those seats, prices for seats on economy class between December 15 and January 7 will go up 40 per cent.' Consumer Council deputy chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing welcomed the price cuts, saying that even traditional airlines could make fares more competitive. But she reminded consumers to be careful with the terms when buying tickets on special deals. 'For such special deals there are conditions such as penalties for changing dates, so it might not allow you any flexibility.'