Monarch launches Lapland holidays from Birmingham

The UK’s Monarch has announced plans to add Lapland holidays direct from Birmingham to its winter programme starting December 1, 2017 with three and four night breaks available to book now.

According to the plan, Monarch flights will depart Birmingham twice a week, on a Tuesday and Friday. Monarch also offers a selection of hotels, apartments and log cabins across Finnish Lapland. Three night breaks to Levi from Birmingham start from £749.00 per person. Flight only service will be available from May 4, 2017.

Gary Anslow, Sales Director at Monarch said: ‘We are really pleased to be extending our Lapland programme to Birmingham for this coming December. Our trade sales team will be out and about in the next few weeks’ visiting our agent partners to make sure they have everything they need to make the most of these new departures. Our Lapland holidays from Gatwick and Manchester are always sold out, so extending to Birmingham departures is great news for those wanting to fly from the Midlands’.

The Birmingham programme will include Monarch’s Ready Steady Snow holidays and Santa’s Tinsel Trail. The Ready Steady Snow itinerary operates from December 1 – 26 and includes snow suit and boots hire, reindeer sleigh, husky sled and snowmobile mini-ride, Arctic Circle ceremony, a trip to ‘Santa’s Post Office’ to see his elves at work, and a private meeting with Santa himself. The Santa Tinsel Trail holidays operate from December 15 – 26 and include the same activities as the Ready Steady Snow programme as well as a hunt for Santa on the tinsel trail, Arctic games and a Christmas feast on the last night.

Monarch’s three- nights Ready Steady Snow holidays to Yllas from Birmingham is priced at £749 per person, with accommodation at the three-star Lapland Hotel Yllaskaltio. The three- nights Ready Steady Snow holidays from Birmingham to Levi is also priced at £749 per person, with accommodation at four-star Levistar Apartments; and, the three-nights Ready Steady Snow holidays to Levi is priced at £869 per person, with accommodation at Levi Hotel Spa. The prices are based on a bed and breakfast basis for a family of four sharing.

Monarch will also be offering an expanded holiday programme from Manchester this winter with the full Santa and Arctic experience trips available to book for the first time in January and February. The announcements follow the successful launch of the Arctic experience programme from London Gatwick last winter, Monarch noted in a release.


Norwegian announces new London-Singapore route from September 2017

Norwegian, a European low-fares airline, is planning to launch a new route from London Gatwick to Singapore this winter as the airline’s long-haul UK network expands into Asia.

Starting September 28, Norwegian will operate four weekly flights, increasing to five in the winter, from London Gatwick to Singapore Changi Airport. Flights are now on sale at with fares from £179 one way.

Operated on Norwegian’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the Gatwick-Singapore route will offer up to 344 seats in both economy and premium cabins. Premium cabin fares are available from £699 one way which includes access to No1 Lounges at Gatwick, more than a metre of legroom, complimentary meal service and a reportedly generous baggage allowance.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: ‘Our transatlantic flights have shown the huge demand for affordable long-haul travel, so we are delighted to expand into new markets and offer our first route to Asia from the UK. Travel should be affordable for all so adding Singapore to our growing UK network will give passengers even more choice for affordable, quality travel to a range of global destinations.

‘The UK is at the heart of Norwegian’s ambitious plans for growth so it is a significant moment not only to launch this exciting new route, but also for it to be the first long-haul route to take to the skies with our new ‘Norwegian UK’ subsidiary.’

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive, Gatwick Airport said: ‘These new direct flights between two of the world’s top three financial centres will be welcome news for business travellers, particularly at a time when global trade is increasingly important for the UK economy. Singapore is also a key tourist destination and gateway hub for long-haul travellers looking to venture further into Southeast Asia and Australia.

‘I’m delighted that Norwegian has responded to this demand and added such a premier destination to its growing long haul network from Gatwick. Crucially, Norwegian continues to make important destinations like Singapore much more affordable and easier to reach for a wider range of passengers. As our 50-strong world route network expands, so too does Gatwick’s reputation on the global stage as a strong, dependable option for international travel.’

Lee Seow Hiang, CEO, Changi Airport Group said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Norwegian to Changi’s portfolio of airlines in September; it will enhance options for Changi Airport’s passengers as well as attract more UK visitors to Singapore. With changing consumer preferences and an improvement in aircraft technology, low-cost carriers have taken the opportunity to expand into the long-haul market. We will continue to work with our airline partners to exploit other such opportunities to grow their operations at Changi.’

Norwegian carries 5.2 million UK passengers each year from four UK airports to more than 50 global destinations. The airline already offers flights from London Gatwick to nine U.S destinations including newly announced routes to Seattle and Denver.

Thomson and First Choice expands services to sun destinations from Bristol Airport for summer 2018

Thomson and First Choice have announced that they have increased their capacity for summer 2018 at Bristol Airport with the addition of new routes to Funchal, Madeira and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The holiday company is also offering new 10 and 11 night breaks to Bulgaria and Dubrovnik for holidaymakers flying from the south-west of England.

Holiday-makers travelling to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from Bristol will fly on Thomson’s new 787 Dreamliner plane and will be able to visit hotels such as the 5T TUI Sensatori Resort Azul Punta Cana. Those travelling on the new route to Funchal, Madeira will also now have access to some of Thomson and First Choice’s most popular hotels, including the 4T TUI Sensimar Savoy Gardens, an adults-only hotel offering scenic views of Funchal and the ocean.

Following increased demand, the holiday company has also introduced the new 10 and 11 night breaks from Bristol airport. With the move customers will now have improved holiday flexibility to purchase getaways to destinations such as Bulgaria and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Karen Switzer, Director of Aviation Planning for TUI UK & Ireland, said: ‘Adding more capacity from Bristol with the introduction of new routes to Funchal, Madeira and new 10 and 11 night breaks to Bulgaria and Dubrovnik, Croatia demonstrates our commitment to the airport and the local area. Increasing access to our exciting collection of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and will enhance the holiday experience for our customers.’

Peter Downes, Head of Aviation for Bristol Airport, said: ‘We’re really pleased to hear that Thomson and First Choice are increasing the number of flights, holidays and destinations available from Bristol Airport. The introduction of Punta Cana as a long haul destination is particularly exciting and I am sure it will attract plenty of local holiday makers who can’t wait to travel on the new 787 Dreamliner. Florida and Mexico destinations commencing from May 2017 are already proving popular and this new long haul route adds to the growing number of destinations available for passengers.’

Dig It! 2017 challenge unveils Scotland’s heritage sites for travellers

Dig It! 2017 has launched a new bucket list challenge featuring Scotland’s six magnificent World Heritage Sites for travellers and tourists in and around the UK, as well as across the world, according to a release by VisitScotland.

The United Nations has recognised the six Scottish heritage sites as unique examples of the world’s cultural heritage. Covering over 5,000 years of history, Scotland’s sites range from a mysterious group of Neolithic monuments in Orkney to a scenic cotton mill village in Lanark.

The Bucket List was created by Dig It! 2017 with support from Historic Environment Scotland and EventScotland. The challenge, issued as part of the Scotland in Six series of events running on World Heritage Day – April 18, 2017, is expected to encourage tourists from home and abroad to discover some of Scotland’s finest attractions.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: ‘With over one third of visitors drawn to Scotland for its history and culture, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 is an exciting opportunity to relive Scotland’s fascinating past.

‘Scotland’s six World Heritage Sites are truly iconic attractions, drawing thousands of visitors from around the globe every year. We are sure this Bucket List challenge, and the other fantastic events planned to celebrate World Heritage Day, will encourage even more visitors to experience the wonders of our World Heritage Sites.’

Dr Rebecca Jones, Head of the Archaeology and World Heritage Team at Historic Environment Scotland, said: ‘A lot of bucket list challenges are long and unwieldy and arguably pretty difficult to achieve, but the great thing about putting Scotland’s six World Heritage sites on your bucket list is that experiencing them all is perfectly possible – and indeed advisable!

‘Each of these iconic sites has something different to offer, from the stunning prehistoric monuments of ancient Orkney to the meticulously built 2,000 year old Roman frontier of the Antonine Wall; from the social impact of New Lanark, one of the largest industrial sites in the world, to the Forth Bridge, an internationally renowned feat of engineering. Ticking off the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh’s iconic Old and New Towns before braving the journey across the sea to the now-uninhabited island beauty of St Kilda is enough to take your breath away.

‘We hope Dig It! 2017’s Bucket List will encourage more people than ever before to travel to Scotland’s incredible World Heritage Sites in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.’

Explore the Dig It! 2017 Bucket List and learn more about Scotland’s six sites, at:

UK families to spend 13% more on holiday this year

British families are ready to spend 13 percent more on their holiday this year compared to last year, with a family of four now set to spend an average of £3,133 on their annual break, according to new research from ATOL.

The ATOL research also revealed that nearly two thirds of holiday makers (61 per cent) struggle with budgeting on holiday and unexpected holiday costs turn out to be quite huge. A family of four holidaying abroad should set aside an average of £536.80, to cover unexpected costs – the equivalent of two return flights to the Canary Islands or a four day pass to Disneyland Paris, the Civil Aviation Authority noted in a report.

UK holidaymakers are also most likely to pay for additional food and drink outside of their original booking, and by charges when withdrawing money abroad. Nearly a fifth of UK holiday makers (18 per cent) have had to pay for replacement accommodation, and a sixth (16 per cent) have had to pay for new flights.

According to the research, the top 10 unexpected holiday costs are food and drink bill, charges when withdrawing money, parking charges, additional car hire costs, airport transfers and shuttles, excess baggage, airplane food and drink, phone roaming charges, internet charges and sporting equipment hire. The survey of 2,000 UK adults who holiday abroad was conducted in March by Mortar on behalf of ATOL.

Commenting on the research. Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL, said: ‘Holiday costs can mount up quickly, while you’re enjoying your holiday, making it very easy to overspend.

‘Our research also showed the unexpected can happen, and over their lifetimes nearly a fifth of consumers (18 per cent) have had to pay for replacement accommodation and a sixth (16 per cent) have had to pay for new flights.’

Simon Read, personal finance expert, added, ‘Holidays are a great way to relax and switch off, but this can all be ruined if people overspend abroad. While we know budgeting and finances are not a top holiday priority it is important not to lose control completely. Foreign currency, changing exchange rates and excitable family members can all lead to budgeting confusion when you are away.

‘However, by taking simple steps such as checking for ATOL protection or setting a daily allowance, people can manage their budgets better while on holiday and avoid those unexpected costs that can dampen the end of a holiday.’

Ryanair to bring forward certain 2017 winter routes from Stansted, Luton

Irish budget airline, Ryanair, has said that it will commence five of its new London Stansted Winter 2017 routes in September, two months earlier than planned, due to strong demand from UK consumers and visitors.

Ryanair will accordingly commence the new services between London Stansted and Aalborg (thrice weekly), Kiev (five weekly), Lviv (twice weekly), Oradea (thrice weekly) and Pardubice (thrice weekly) in September. The routes are part of the airline’s expanded London Stansted winter 2017 schedule, which features 127 routes in total to progress 20.7m customers through London Stansted Airport this year.

To celebrate its early start, Ryanair has launched seats for sale at prices starting from just GBP24.99 for travel in September and October. The low fare seats are available for booking on the website until midnight of Monday, April 17, 2017.

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said: ‘We’re pleased to report strong demand for our new London Stansted routes, including our first UK-Ukraine services, and as a result, we will commence five of these routes from September, two months early, as part of our expanded London Stansted winter 2017 service. British customers and visitors can look forward to even lower fares when they make advance bookings for their summer or winter holidays, so there’s never been a better time to book a low fare flight to or from London.

To celebrate, we are releasing seats on our new London Stansted routes for sale from just GBP24.99 for travel in September and October, which are available for booking until midnight Monday (17 Apr). Since these amazing low fares will be snapped up quickly, customers should log onto and avoid missing out.’

Mats Sigurdson, Stansted Airport’s aviation director, added: ‘We’re delighted that Ryanair’s new winter routes have proved so popular that they are launching them two months earlier than planned. These routes will offer passengers and businesses even more choice at great value and build on the strength of Ryanair’s extensive network at Stansted.’

In addition, Ryanair announced a new route to Bydgoszcz from London Luton as part of its winter 2017 schedule. Starting in October, the airline will operate a thrice weekly service to Bydgoszcz.

Commenting on the plan, Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said: ‘We are pleased to add a new Bydgoszcz route to our London Luton winter 2017 schedule, which will operate three times weekly from October. Our Luton winter schedule also includes popular winter sun routes to Fuertaventura, Lanzarote, Malta and Tenerife, with 15 routes in total, which will help deliver over 1.6 million customers p.a. at London Luton Airport.

‘Fares on our new Bydgoszcz route are on sale now from just GBP25.99 for travel from October to December, which are available for booking on the website until Monday (17 Apr).’

See more at:

67% of travel-booking websites display unreliable pricing, Europe report

While booking hotels and flights online is increasingly becoming popular, problems with online travel services have become one of the most common types of consumer complaints, according to a study by the European Commission.

Following complaints received by European consumer centres, in October 2016 the European Commission and EU consumer protection authorities launched a coordinated screening of 352 price comparison and travel booking websites across 28 countries (26 EU countries, Norway and Iceland).

The study revealed that two thirds – 67 percent – of travel comparison and booking websites checked displayed unreliable pricing. In one third of the cases, the price first shown was not the same as the final price; in one fifth of the cases, promotional offers were not really available; and in almost one third of the cases, the total price or the way it was calculated was not clear.

The consumer protection authorities have asked these websites to comply with EU consumer legislation. This legislation requires them to be fully transparent about prices, and to present offers in a clear way, at an early stage in the booking process.

Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: ‘The Internet provides consumers with plenty of information to prepare, compare and book their holidays. However, if the reviews on comparison websites are biased or prices are not transparent, these websites are misleading consumers. The companies concerned need to respect the European consumer rules, just like a travel agent would. Consumer authorities will now require the websites to solve these issues. Consumers deserve the same protection online and offline.’

Leading European regional airlines Ryanair has welcomed the European Commission report as well as EU’s decision to invoke national enforcement procedures to ensure that the websites comply with EU consumer legislation. Ryanair has been engaged in several legal cases across Europe against ‘screenscraper’ websites such as Opodo and eDreams to ensure that Ryanair has appropriate contact details to communicate with its customers.

Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs, commented, ‘The Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, herself said that if reviews on comparison websites are biased or prices are not transparent, then these websites are misleading consumers. It’s patently obvious that consumers across Europe are being misled and overcharged by some of these websites. We welcome this report, which exposes these anti-consumer practices and we hope its findings will lead to greater protection for consumers. Our advice to customers is simple: book directly on the website to avoid being misled or overcharged.’

Monarch expands UK winter 2017/18 schedule, adds 430,000 more seats

Low cost airline and holiday company Monarch has said that it has added more routes to its winter schedule for 2017/18, with flights from all five of its UK bases: Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester.

Monarch has launched the sale to popular ski routes including Turin, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Lyon and Grenoble. In addition to ski destinations, the airline is also offering a service from London Luton to Ovda, the gateway to Eilat and the Red Sea, for the third successive winter season. The airline has also enhanced service to popular winter sun routes to the Canaries as well as Spanish destinations such as Malaga and Alicante.

The routes released for sale include Birmingham – Salzburg operating weekly, with fares starting at £39.00; Birmingham – Turin, also operating weekly, with fares from £47.00; services to Friedrichshafen, Lyon and Turin from London Gatwick all operating weekly with fares starting from £35.00; services to Grenoble and Innsbruck from London Gatwick, both operating four times weekly, and with fares starting from £35.00; a thrice weekly service to Geneva from London Gatwick with fares starting from £29.00; a weekly service to Ovda from London Luton with fares from £89.00; a weekly service to Turin from Manchester with fares from £39.00; twice weekly services to Grenoble and Innsbruck from Manchester with fares from £39.00; and a twice weekly service to Naples from Manchester with the first flight set to take off on March 30, 2018 at fares from £91.00.

Marjan Schoeke, Monarch’s Head of Network Development commented: ‘We are pleased to be putting the majority of our ski flights on sale, as well as providing more choice to our most popular winter destinations. In total another 430,000 seats are now available for winter 2017/18.

‘Customers now have a wide choice of popular ski, winter sun and city break destinations to choose from when booking their holidays.’

The airline said that it will also extend its flying programme from Manchester to Kittila in Finnish Lapland, with scheduled flights now available in January and February. The move comes after the success of Monarch’s Arctic Experience programme launched from London Gatwick last winter. There is now an extended range of Lapland holidays available through Monarch Holidays from both Gatwick and Manchester.

The winter schedule for 2017/18 has increased frequencies to some of the airline’s most popular leisure destinations, with more convenient flight times for customers looking to enjoy a short city break, ski holidays or an extended winter sun holiday. The remainder of the winter 2017/18 will be added soon, the airline said.

Iberia Express launches new route to Madrid from Cardiff Airport

Iberia Express, the low cost airline of the Iberia Group, has launched a new flight service from Cardiff to Madrid as part of its 2017 summer programme.

The airline will start flying to the Spanish capital this Easter, from April 6 to 16, and will resume the flights from June 8 to September 28, 2017. The airline will offer two weekly frequencies to Madrid on Thursdays and Sundays, with prices from £43.00, and from £155 in Business, Cardiff Airport said in a release.

Customers will also be able to connect via Madrid and continue their trip to other Iberia Group destinations covering 20 Spanish cities, such as Alicante, Asturias, Bilbao, Gran Canaria, Granada or Seville; Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, Johannesburg, Dakar and Malabo, Tel Aviv, and Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile, Medellin, Havana, Mexico City, Miami and New York in the Americas.

Alexandra Sabate, Head of Network Planning and Scheduling of Iberia Express said: ‘This new route from Cardiff to Madrid, which we are inaugurating today, shows our commitment to the British market and reinforces our presence in the United Kingdom. Iberia Express is the only airline that directly connects these two great cities, improving the connectivity of Wales to Iberia’s extensive network, and offering a variety of destinations at very competitive prices with high standards of quality and service’. 

Deb Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airport said: ‘We’d like to extend a warm, Welsh welcome to our new airline Iberia Express and its addition of a brand new route to the Spanish capital of Madrid – a destination that’s been highly sought by our customers for a long time. With conveniently timed flights available at good prices, the service is ideal for short city breaks to discover all that the city has to offer.

‘Likewise, we look forward to welcoming even more visitors from Spain to our country during what is a very exciting year for Wales – the home nation of Real Madrid star player Gareth Bale and host city for the UEFA Champions League final 2017. With UNESCO listed, stunning mountain ranges, miles of award-winning coastline and a bustling city-scape within easy reach, there are many reasons to visit Wales using our national Airport as the gateway.’

Iberia Express already operates a total of seven routes from UK airports – five to Madrid from London Gatwick, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and the new one from Cardiff, as well as routes connecting London Heathrow with Asturias and Gran Canaria. In total, Iberia Express connects the Spanish capital to different British cities with an average of 33 weekly frequencies.

Thomas Cook announces summer 2018 programme from Bristol Airport

Thomas Cook has launched its summer 2018 programme for Bristol Airport, with a range of new destinations for travellers.

The new destinations for summer 2018 include the Preveza in Greece and Hurghada in Egypt – both the routes being exclusive to Thomas Cook from Bristol. The other new destinations added to the programme include Bourgas in Bulgaria, Gerona on Spain’s Costa Brava, Kos and Paphos.

In addition to the new destinations, Thomas Cook is also offering customers three new own-brand hotels to choose from including new smartline and Sunconnect resorts. Thomas Cook Airlines will also introduce 11 additional flight routes from Bristol Airport, both to existing destinations and to new destinations, with flights starting from £49.99, according a release by Bristol Airport.

Chris Mottershead, Managing Director at Thomas Cook UK said: ‘Our new destinations for summer 2018 from Bristol offer a good mix of holiday types. We’re expecting a revitalisation in the traditional package holiday destination of Costa Brava and we’ve worked hard to secure some of the best quality hotels for our customers.’

Shaun Browne, Head of Aviation Relations, Bristol Airport said: ‘We are delighted with Thomas Cook’s exciting Summer 2018 programme from Bristol. The new flights including Hurghada and Preveza are particularly welcome as these routes have been high on passengers wish-list of flights from Bristol Airport. The improved range of destinations in 2018 will help ensure Thomas Cook offers customers throughout the South West and Wales a great choice and options of holidays available from their regional airport.’

Costa Brava, which was first offered to Thomas Cook customers in 1949 for travel by steamer and rail, was re-introduced in 2018 with one flight per week from Bristol. The new product range includes four hotels in the resorts of Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar which are exclusive to Thomas Cook in the UK. The Thomas Cook offer will commence with seven nights at the Evenia Olympic Park Hotel in Lloret de Mar on an all-inclusive basis, from £679 per person, departing from Bristol on May 19, 2018 on Thomas Cook Airlines.