With the advent of no-frills airlines it has become possible for weekend warriors to extend their bike ride destinations. Why drive to the Peaks when you can fly to Tuscany? A soon-to-launch airline extends the geographical potential even further: how about a week's tour down under, or a bit of biking in Bangkok? BackpackersXpress is the first airline to take a low cost model international - and it's not just for backpackers...

Ditch the rucksack, fly to Oz with your bike

Five cities popular with global backpackers are to be linked by a new Australian-owned airline, BackpackersXpress.

Due to take off in late October early November, it is planning thrice weekly flights between Manchester-Melbourne, and twice-weekly Munich-Melbourne, with both flights stopping in Bangkok both ways. Subject to the outcome of a traffic rights competitive bid, New Delhi will also be on the airline’s network.

The airline needs to raise initial start-up costs of A$50m and was due for a June launch. However, in a BikeBizBible-style get-out clause, the airline said the delay was unavoidable: "You know what it’s like…aircraft to paint, bars to install, and of course regulatory requirements to meet."

The airline’s aircraft will be modified to suit the clientele: the entire first class nose-section will be replaced with a café and bar.

There will also be live entertainment, games and competitions, a networking service to put like-minded travellers together, and DVD players.

Oz beer brand Fosters has signed up as the airline’s first sponsor. Fosters graphics will be emblazoned on the aircraft’s engines, making the engines look like flying beer cans.

Fares from the UK for an open ended, fully flexible ticket are expected to be £650 return between Melbourne and Manchester/Munich.

The airline is not solely targetted at backpackers. The term refers to a “mindset, not a demographic,” said the airline. Those who don’t want to mingle with the backpackers will be offered special seating on the upper deck.


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