Monarch offers half term holidays from UK airports

British low cost airline Monarch has announced the launch of half term holidays in February to popular winter sun destinations such as Lanzarote and Tenerife-Canary Islands, and Costa del Sol from Birmingham, Manchester and London Gatwick, at reduced fares.

For holidaymakers seeking snow, Monarch offers a traditional winter holiday to Lapland with its ‘Arctic Experience’ trips. Winter sun or Lapland holidays are offered at prices starting from £299.00 per person.

The holiday service to Lanzarote – Canary Islands will depart Birmingham on February 12, for a seven night stay at the four-star Occidental Lanzarote Playa. The offering starts from £479.00 per person, and includes return flights and seven nights all-inclusive accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a twin room.

The airline also offers a holiday service to Tenerife – Canary Islands from Manchester. The flight will depart on February 11, 2017 for a seven night stay at the five star Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife. With prices starting from £695.00 per person, the package includes return flights and seven nights bed and breakfast accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a deluxe room.

From Birmingham, the holiday service to Tenerife – Canary Islands will depart on February 12, for a seven night stay at the five-star Gran Tacande Hotel. Priced from £935.00 per person, the package includes return flights and seven nights bed and breakfast accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a twin room with a sea view.

Meanwhile, the holiday service to Costa del Sol, Spain will start from £299 per person. The flight will depart Birmingham on February 12, 2017 for a seven night stay at the four star Puente Real. The service includes return flights and seven nights half board accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a one bedroom apartment.

The airline also offers its ‘Arctic Experience’ holidays to Lapland. The flight will depart London Gatwick on February 14, 2017 for a three night stay at the three star Lapland Hotel Akashotelli. Priced from £325.00 per person, the holiday package includes return flights and three nights bed and breakfast accommodation based on two adults and two children sharing a one bedroom apartment with a sauna.

Monarch’s All Flights Reduced sale has 100,000 seats. In addition to a selection of sun, city and ski destinations, the airline is also offering 60,000 seats for the Canaries, Madeira and Dalaman.

Monarch Airlines announces new Porto service from Birmingham Airport for summer 2017

Monarch Airlines, an independent UK-based airline group, has announced the addition of Porto to their network for summer 2017 from Birmingham Airport.

The city of Porto will be the fourth Portuguese destination on the Monarch network, alongside Lisbon, which was introduced last summer, and Faro and Funchal in Madeira. The coastal city of Porto is renowned for its port wine and architecture.

The new flights to Porto from Birmingham will commence on April 28, 2017 and will operate three times a week on a Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Tickets are available for booking from £32 one-way inclusive of taxes and charges. Flights and holidays to Porto are available to book at www.monarch.co.uk.

Marjan Schoeke, Monarch’s Head of Network Development, comments: ‘We are delighted to be announcing Porto as our latest addition to the network from Birmingham Airport. This new route joins Stockholm as an exciting new destination for our customers to visit in summer 2017.

‘The announcement of flights to Porto from Birmingham follow on from a successful launch of the route from other bases back in September. It’s the ideal destination for those looking to book the perfect city break.’

Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive Officer at Birmingham Airport, said: ‘It is excellent news to see Monarch introducing another popular destination to their choice of routes from Birmingham Airport.

‘Porto is a vibrant city with a fascinating history, interesting tourist attractions and great nightlife and so it will appeal to a wide range of our passengers and we are sure it will be a popular summer route.’

Monarch has recently expanded its summer programme for 2017 with the addition of Stockholm.

Turkish Airlines launches double daily flights from Birmingham

Turkish Airlines has commenced its double daily services between Birmingham and Istanbul, increasing the volume of seats on sale from the Midlands, and providing 289 onward global connections from Istanbul.

Paul Kehoe, chief executive, Birmingham Airport, said, ‘I congratulate the Turkish Airlines team on doing a great job here in the region and increasing passenger numbers year-on-year, and for further committing to Birmingham Airport and the wider region.’

‘Turkish Airlines is an award winning carrier and long-standing partner of ours which has gone from strength to strength serving hundreds of thousands of passengers from our catchment. The Turkish Airlines in-flight product is first class and extremely popular with its customers, which is demonstrated by more and more people choosing to experience the service, reliability and affordability it offers from Birmingham and beyond.’

Selim Ozturk, General Manager for Birmingham, Turkish Airlines, said, ‘Birmingham Airport is a hugely successful base for us and we have grown significantly over the past eight years. This double daily announcement gives passengers even more choice and with 289 onward destinations via Istanbul throughout the Middle East, the Far East and Africa, Birmingham Airport really is the gateway to the world with our award winning airline.’

Turkish Airline has registered significant growth since it started operating from Birmingham Airport with five services a week to Istanbul in December 2008. By increasing its frequency every year, the airline has now reached 14 flights weekly.

Meanwhile, Birmingham Airport has registered record breaking growth in passenger numbers in the past 14 consecutive months. In total, 872,833 passengers were handled at the airport in April 2016, up by 13.2 percent compared to the same month last year when the last record April was set. Long-haul routes experienced the greatest rise in demand, with 41.2 percent passenger growth compared to April 2015. Meanwhile, short-haul routes saw a 9.7 percent growth rate year-on-year, the airline said recently.

Major British airlines urge EU to protect passenger interests

The chiefs of three major British airlines have come together as a group to oppose European Union (EU) passenger taxes and policies that are hiking up the costs for customers, reports said.

Carolyn McCall, Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh, the chief executives of easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways owner International Airline Group respectively, have joined forces with the heads of Lufthansa Group and Air France KLM and agreed to lobby EU officials for change of policy and a simpler regulatory structure.

The airlines chiefs demanded the European Union provide a more efficient and competitive market to protect passenger interests, and guarantee jobs and business growth.

‘Europe’s airlines form the most competitive sector in aviation, with a diverse mix of carriers offering competition and choice to consumers,’ the airlines’ chiefs said in a joint statement.

‘This is the first time we have set aside our competitive battles to highlight the importance of a new European Aviation Strategy. As the new Transport Commissioner prepares a new Aviation Strategy for Europe she must drive more competition, encourage more efficiency and help reduce costs in other parts of our industry (such as monopoly airports and Air Traffic Control providers) and reduce the tax burden on passengers,’ they added.

Presently the European Union is ‘in effect taxing an enabler of economic activity’, IAG chief Walsh said. He added that that passenger taxes are counter-productive and urged for the cancellation of the ‘unreasonable’ charges.

The airlines chiefs particularly called for affirmative action over disruptive European airstrikes that cost the industry millions every year. According to Ryanair chief O’Leary, strike days have resulted in over 3,000 cancelled flights this year alone.

The top executives also called for reforms to lower the cost of European airport charges that would allow them to reduce fares for customers. The cost of European airports is among the highest in the world and a new strategy must achieve ‘real progress soon,’ the executives said.

Edinburgh Airport marks World Autism Awareness Day with new support package

Marking World Autism Awareness Day, Edinburgh Airport has launched a support package to help passengers with autism and other additional support needs travel through the airport effortlessly.

The first project of its kind in Scotland, Edinburgh Airport developed the new ‘Travelling with Additional Needs’ toolkit to help autistic passengers and their families inwith navigating their way through a busy airport. The package has been developed in association with Scottish Autism, the airport’s corporate charity partner for 2014, and disability equality group Wideaware.

The toolkit comprises a series of factsheets – easy step-by-step airport guide – focusing on different sections of the airport journey which may be particularly stressful. It will further be supported by hands-on initiatives including advance walk-throughs for passengers with autism, in a wheelchair, or even someone who may not have been in an airport before.

David Wilson, Chief Operating Officer at Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘Our specially designed toolkit and the wider support package have been specifically designed for those passengers who may need a little bit of help or reassurance before they fly, whether that is information on where to find their check in desk or how to use a self-service machine.

‘We firmly believe that everyone who wants to fly can fly and we’re committed to making sure all of our passengers have the best experience possible. We have an amazing team here at Edinburgh Airport and we’ll continue to work to ensure our services are of the highest standard.’

Charlene Tait, Director of Development at Scottish Autism, said: ‘We know of many people living with autism who, along with their families, are disenfranchised from air travel because they simply cannot cope with the stress and trauma of an airport.

This new initiative with Edinburgh Airport is a great starting point in trying to change this situation. The toolkit and other support measures have the potential to really help people with autism and other support needs by making them more aware of what they can expect in an airport environment and help them prepare in advance.’

Edinburgh Airport is also working with airlines such as easyJet and British Airways to help facilitate bespoke courses for people with a fear of flying.

 

UK government asked to abolish air tax

The UK Government has been urged to abolish tax on flights from Britain, in line with the move by Ireland, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Ireland, which had already cut air tax to just €3 per passenger per flight, said earlier this week that it will scrap the tax on flights completely from April 2014.

Commenting that Britain has the highest rate of air tax in the world, Steve Hoy, chief commercial officer at Bmi regional, urged the UK government to adopt a similar policy.

‘This recent tax break highlights that the Irish constituency has recognised the negative impact that the duty has on core industry, tourism and airlines,’ Hoy said, adding: ‘We’re disappointed that UK air travel continues to be subjected to such a considerable levy and urge the UK government to follow suit.’

Following the latest rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD) in April 2013, the standard rate (for non-economy class) of APD for Band A (for destinations less than 2,000 miles from London) is £26. The rate for Band D (more than 6,000 miles) is £188, rising to £194 from April 1 2014. The APD has been cited as the reason for pricing ordinary families out of overseas holidays, discouraging airlines from opening new routes and forcing many to be withdrawn, and causing inbound tourists, who pay the tax on their flight home, to go elsewhere.

A report by C & IT Magazine said that nearly 250 UK business leaders have also signed a petition telling the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Air Passenger Duty (APD) was a ‘significant additional burden’ for businesses.

The petition, organised by the campaign ‘A Fair Tax on Flying’, said that supporters were calling on ‘the Government to undertake urgent action to reduce the world’s highest air passenger tax’. ‘Air travel is vital to the success of our business because it helps us to connect to new markets and reach new customers,’ it said.

Commenting on the situation, an HM Treasury spokesperson said: ‘The Government has frozen APD in real terms since 2010, and in the last year, APD has not changed at all for the majority of flights. Passenger numbers are going up, and airlines do not have to pass on the cost of APD to passengers. However it is important that the aviation sector plays a part in helping to bring down the deficit.

‘International aviation is generally not subject to tax on fuel, and in contrast to many other countries, there is no VAT charged on flights in the UK.’

Meanwhile, announcing the decision to abolish the tax, Irish finance minister Michael Noonan reportedly said that he expected airlines to respond by launching new routes and increasing the frequency of other services.

UK airline anger at latest French strike

UK airlines are being forced to cancel flights and are expressing their anger over a strike by French air traffic controllers.

The three-day strike, which starts today, has forced Luton-based low-cost airline, Easyjet, to cancel almost 130 flights, including scheduled flights to and from Nice, Toulouse and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports.

The company commented, ‘EasyJet and all other airlines operating to and from France have been advised to expect only 50 percent of normal services, which means we will be required to cancel approximately 128 flights each day.’

UK-based British Airways and Ireland-based low-cost carrier, Ryanair, are also facing disruption, with Ryanair cancelling 102 flights today alone and expressing its anger by calling for French government and European Commission intervention to stop the strike from extending to its full three days.

A spokesman for Ryanair commented, ‘It is unacceptable that the skies over Europe are repeatedly closed or flights are delayed by the unjustified strike action of tiny numbers of air traffic controllers. These public servants are among the most overpaid and protected in Europe and yet they repeatedly opt for the strike weapon as a first, rather than a last resort. We are into the peak summer season in Europe and already the French air traffic controllers are engaged in strike action, which will result in 102 Ryanair flights being cancelled on Tuesday, with many others at risk of disruption.’

‘The solution to this problem is simple: remove their right to strike in exactly the same way that air traffic controllers in the USA are prevented by law from striking. Until then, it is up to the EU Commission and French Government to ensure there are no further cancellations on Wednesday and Thursday as a result of these unwarranted strikes.’

The strike is taking place in protest against plans by the EU to create a single European airspace. Air traffic control unions across Europe fear that the so-called Single European Sky project will affect their members working conditions as well as public safety. In support of the protest, strikes or other industrial action could also take place from Wednesday of this week in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Slovakia.

TAP Portugal Increases Service to UK

TAP Portugal, a Portugal based airline, has announced an increase in its flights to the UK.

The airline is extending the Anglo-Portuguese connection by increasing its five- times a week service from Manchester Airport in UK to Lisbon Airport in Portugal to a daily service.

The newly expanded service commences from October 28, 2012, with the airline offering twin-class fares, which includes complimentary food and drink, complimentary advance seat choice, a 23kg baggage allowance, and the Executive and Victoria frequent flyer services.

With this extension, the total number of flights offered by the airline increases to 74 every week. The airline’s winter schedule for 2012 for British residents includes 46 flights every week from Lisbon to London; 14 flights from Porto to London; seven from Funchal to London; and seven from Lisbon to Manchester. The airline is currently also offering a service from London Heathrow airport to Madeira airport, Portugal.

The airline commenced its services on the Lisbon to Manchester route in June 2011, and is currently flying the sector with a load factor of 84%, as reported in July 2012. Since its inception, the airline has flown around 48,000 passengers on this route within one year of service.

The airline, which serves a total of 75 destinations in 35 countries, is also the main carrier between the UK and Spain. The airline is currently trying to increase its reach to more destinations in North and South America, and Africa.

The airline, however, in the first half of 2012, registered a loss of €112 million, suffering from industrial action in the sector, which had a direct impact of €21.6 million. Half yearly revenues, however, increased by 9.3% from the same period in 2011, to €1.084 billion.

Survey Suggests In-Flight Food More Expensive than Supermarket

Low cost airlines may offer fares for the budget conscious, but pricing of food is hardly aimed at the cost conscious traveller, says TravelSupermarket, a UK-based online travel company.

Recent research done by the company says that packed food, such as Pringles, cost around 495% more than the supermarket, while the average mark-up on food and drink for airline passengers is around 347% more than supermarket rates. Travellers often land up paying around 1,471% more for a 500ml bottle of water ordered in-flight.

Bob Atkinson, the company travel expert, said, ‘Holidaymakers flying with airlines that don’t offer a complimentary meal can easily fork out a small fortune on snacks which are considerably more expensive on board than what you’d pay in a supermarket, or even in an airport shop. Airlines realize hungry and thirsty passengers are a captive audience with no option but to buy from the trolley if they have failed to plan ahead.

Rather than leaving things until last minute, a much better option is to think ahead and either bring along your own food from home or buy sandwiches and snacks at a supermarket for your flight.

Alternatively, pick up a meal deal in airport branches of Boots, or WH Smith, before you board and save yourself around 50% on similar items bought on board. Many airports also offer voucher booklets offering a range of discounts on airport shops and restaurants, so look out for these before travelling if you wish to buy at the airport.

There is of course no getting around the airline liquids ban. However families can still save a significant amount by purchasing non-alcoholic drinks in the departure area before the flight – you’ll also find the choice is greater.’

Fly midweek and save a fortune

Travellers that are keen to get the best possible value for money from their travel arrangements would do well to organise their flights on a day in the middle of the week, according to the findings of a recent survey.

The survey was undertaken by consumer watchdog, Which?, and according to its findings, Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to book a flight out of the UK, while Sunday is the most expensive.

Flights with budget airlines can be as much as 35 percent more expensive on a Friday than the equivalent flight leaving on Tuesday, according to the study findings. And selecting the most cost effective flights does not stop with simply choosing which day to travel on, the study also revealed that choosing a less popular time to fly, even on the same day, can also pay substantial dividends. For example, 86 percent of BA’s cheapest flights are in the evening.

The conclusions were drawn following research into 1,174 flights in September, to three European destinations, Dublin, Barcelona and Alicante. The survey benchmark was a return flight for one person with one piece of checked-in luggage, and the prices were compiled in August.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying: ‘With household budgets squeezed, holidaymakers will want to make sure they are getting a good deal on their flights. We found that people can save a significant sum of money if they shop around and can be flexible, changing the day or time they choose to travel.’