British Airways announces flights from London City to Alicante

British Airways has announced new flights from London City Airport to Alicante, one of the more popular tourist destinations in Spain.

British Airways will operate the new four-times-a-week service from London City to Alicante throughout the summer on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Each way hand baggage only fares from London City-Alicante are available from £55 on www.ba.com/londoncity.

Commenting on the timing, Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer, London City, said: ‘While everyone is still getting over our exit from the football finals this is a fantastic opportunity to escape the disappointment – and the British weather – and head off to sunny Spain. We are delighted to be able to provide direct services from London City to one of the most popular tourist regions of Spain for the first time.’

Matthew Hall, Chief Commercial Officer at London City Airport, said: ‘Alicante is the gateway to a stunning part of the Spanish Mediterranean and an excellent addition to our offer of leisure destinations this summer. From the conveniently located London City Airport, passengers can escape on this British Airways service to the buzz of balmy nightlife and cafe culture or the relaxation of Costa Blanca beaches and a round of golf.

‘With flights four times a week, our quick check in, close proximity to central London, and a flight time of just two and a half hours, it’s never been easier to get to this popular sunny getaway.’

With the addition of the Alicante route, British Airways will fly up to 63 flights a week to seven Spanish destinations from London City this summer. The seven Spanish British Airways’ destinations from London City are Alicante, Madrid, Granada, Malaga, Ibiza, Palma and Mahon.

Birmingham Airport announces twice weekly flights to Palma De Mallorca

Birmingham Airport has said that Spanish airline AlbaStar has launched twice weekly flights between Birmingham and Palma de Mallorca.

The route will be served by a Boeing 737-400 aircraft containing 170 seats and will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Tickets are available for booking at the airline’s website as well as through online travel agency ‘On the Beach’, the airport said.

William Pearson, Birmingham Airport’s Aviation Director, said: ‘We are very pleased to be welcoming Alba Star – our twelfth new airline in the space of just over a year, to Birmingham Airport.

‘Palma de Mallorca is a very well-known and extremely popular holiday destination from Birmingham Airport. When this is combined with the great on board service and very reasonable seat prices AlbaStar and ‘On the Beach’ offer, we are sure this will be a popular route and carrier and we look forward to seeing it flourish at Birmingham Airport.’

Michael Harrington, Managing Director of AlbaStar, added: ‘We are very pleased to start this new initiative at Birmingham Airport which we now hope becomes the central platform for our UK AlbaStar operations. Birmingham is ideally geographically situated and the airport has an excellent rail link which allows the airport to have an extended catchment area.’

Birmingham Airport recently reported that it handled over one million passengers in the month of May – the first time that the airport has reached this milestone this year. In total 1,005,861 people travelled through the airport in May, up by 11.1 per cent compared to the same month last year. Long-haul routes registered the greatest rise in demand with 16.5 per cent passenger growth compared to the same month last year. Meanwhile, short-haul routes recorded a 10.5 per cent growth rate year-on-year.

Commenting on the passenger growth, Paul Kehoe, chief executive officer at Birmingham Airport, said: ‘To be hitting the one million passenger mark in May is fantastic news for the airport. It shows us that the new airlines and routes we have recently introduced are proving popular with our passengers.’

Last month, leading regional airlines including Flybe, Wizz Air and Turkish Airlines have announced expansion to their services from Birmingham.

British Airways commences summer-only services from Stansted

British Airways has announced its first flights from Stansted Airport, with all the summer sun destinations fully booked for this weekend.

Holiday travellers have a choice of four popular summer destinations – Faro in Portugal and Malaga, Palma and Ibiza in Spain from Saturday, with flights to Berlin launching in June. In addition, the frequency of flights to Malaga has been doubled to two flights every Saturday during August to meet customer demand. Fares start from £49 each way based on a return fare with hand baggage only, inclusive of all taxes, fees and charges.

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer at BA CityFlyer, said: ‘This is a great start to our Stansted operation with customers quick to book our inclusive competitive fares with an excellent schedule and the choice of some of the most popular summer destinations.

‘We are really looking forward to working with Stansted and giving our customers the choice of flying with British Airways from a fourth London Airport.’

Andrew Cowan, Stansted’s CEO, said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted that every seat on the first ever British Airways flights from Stansted completely sold out this weekend. We were confident these new services to Faro, Malaga, Palma and Ibiza would prove popular with passengers and this really positive start is a clear demonstration of the strength of demand that exists across the region.

‘We now look forward to welcoming the addition of a new Berlin service next month and working closely with British Airways over the summer to build on this strong start and ensuring these exciting new flights continue to be a great success.’

British Airways is operating from Stansted for the first time – the fourth London airport on its network with the summer-only services running until the end of October. Currently the airline operates from the three other major London Airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and London City.

The Stansted flights are operated by the wholly owned British Airways subsidiary BA CityFlyer on 98-seat Embraer 190 jets. All British Airways flights include a choice of two cabins, Club Europe and Euro Traveller, free on line check-in 24 hours before departure and no debit card charges.

‘Returnerism’ trending among UK holidaymakers, ATOL research

‘Returnerism’ is common among UK holidaymakers, with nearly a third of people (30 per cent) returning to the same holiday destination every single year, new research from ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s License) has found.

According to a release by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s specialist aviation regulator, from survey results an average person has been to the same holiday resort four times, and more than a tenth of UK holidaymakers (11 per cent) have returned to the same holiday spot ten or more times. ‘Returnerism’ also signals that holidaymakers eliminate middlemen as they become more familiar with holiday booking and destinations. Two fifths (40 per cent) of travellers book their flights, hotel and transfer all independently, rather than booking them together through a travel company.

However, a common side effect of ‘returnerism’ is that tourists fail to check for ATOL protection – potentially putting their holiday at risk, the release said. Booking an ATOL protected holiday through a UK travel company would mean holidaymakers are protected even if the company ceases trading, it added.

Commenting on the research, Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL said: ‘Our research shows that many of us in the UK are creatures of habit who love the comfort of taking our well-earned summer breaks in familiar surroundings that we know inside out.

‘But with so many UK tourists returning to the same holiday destination year after year, they may be tempted to book their own arrangements rather than use a travel company. If you book a ‘DIY’ holiday in this way you will not be ATOL protected – losing out on that important protection for your holiday and money if something happens to the companies you book with.

‘So even when people know their destination really well, it’s important to remember to pack peace of mind when booking, by checking for ATOL protection. Booking flights and accommodations together with a UK travel company means you will be ATOL protected, your money will be safe and you can concentrate on looking forward to that well-earned holiday.’

According to the research, the most popular country for tourists to return to is Spain, with The Canary Islands, The Balearic Islands, Costa del Sol and Benidorm all featuring in the list of top holiday resorts most commonly returned to. Also long distance destinations do not deter tourists from returning, with both Orlando and California also featuring in the top ten.

Holidaymakers are likely to follow their usual travel traditions at the destination too. Nearly a third of people (31 per cent) said they book the same hotel and a tenth (nine per cent) will even look for the same room. Over a third of the tourists (34 per cent) will dine at the same restaurant and over a quarter (26 per cent) will go to the same pub or bar on every trip, the release noted

The ATOL survey was conducted, in February – questioning 2,000 UK adults who holiday abroad. ‘Returnerism’ has been defined as ‘an ‘illness’ which UK holidaymakers find themselves suffering from when they return to the same holiday destination year in year out.’

Brittany Ferries offers short breaks to Spain

Brittany Ferries has announced a selection of short breaks to Spain this spring and autumn, sailing directly from Portsmouth and Plymouth.

The ferry service is offering UK holidaymakers seeking a refreshing coastal or mountain break in northern Spain, with deals from £169 per person for travel between March and June.

‘Many of the hotels are favourites with our customers and the best thing about these breaks is that you choose where you’d like to stay,’ said Christiane Barker, Brittany Ferries general manager, Holidays. ‘We have developed a menu of carefully selected accommodation near beautiful beaches, amongst mountains, as well as in traditional Spanish villages.’

The schedule of holidays include a four night break from Plymouth to Santander, starting from £169 for travel between March 27 and June 30 and from September 18, 2016; a seven night break from Portsmouth to Santander starting from £279 per person and available for travel between March 29 and June 28 and from September 20, 2016; and a five night break from Portsmouth to Bilbao starting from £169 per person, available for travel between March 27 and July 1 and from September 18, 2016.

Spanish coast and mountain breaks are also available on selected sailings from September onwards. Prices are based on two people travelling in a standard car, sharing a twin room at the hotel and with four berth cabin each way. Included in the menu are the four-star Las Rocas, located in Castro Urdiales, one of Cantabria’s fishing ports, and for mountain lovers, the four-star Hotel La Cepada, Cangas de Onis, located on the slopes of Mount Llueves.

Car ferry service Brittany Ferries offers a trip combining French cuisine, cabins, bars and boutique shopping while on board.

 

British holidaymakers eye Portugal and Spain amid security issues in Egypt, Turkey

British tourists are increasing turning to destinations like Portugal and Spain for their holidays this summer, while previously popular destinations of Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia are being dropped for security reasons, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Citing figures, the report noted that reservations for Portugal have increased by nearly 32 per cent, while that to Spain has seen a 27 per cent rise, with other destinations like Cyprus and Malta also figuring in the sought-after list.

Meanwhile airlines and travel groups are registering a drop in business to traditionally popular destinations like Tunisia and Egypt, following terrorist incidents and changes to Foreign Office travel advice. Turkey has seen reservations drop by 50 per cent following a bomb blast in Istanbul last month, which saw ten people killed in a busy tourist area, the report noted.

Following the trend, travel group ABTA has issued a notice to tourists to book their holidays early this year. Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: ‘The significant increase in summer holiday bookings to western Mediterranean destinations is also being mirrored in other Northern European markets.

‘So it makes it more important than ever that customers book early to obtain the best value and ensure they get the holiday of their choice.’

Besides, amid rising demand for the supposedly safer destinations, many of the airlines are now diverting flights to high-demand areas.

Last week Thomas Cook has said that it has moved 400,000 seats from Turkey to Spain, while tour operator Thompson said it has increased capacity significantly to Spain to meet the demand. Monarch airlines said that the eight flights a week schedule which were previously going to Sharm-el-Sheikh, in Egypt, had all now been diverted to Spain following the ban of all UK airlines to the site, which saw 38 people gunned down on a beach last year.

Citing the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, the report added that UK residents are taking more overseas holidays than ever. The Travel and Tourism report showed Britons made 13.4million visits abroad in the three months to December 2015, an increase of 10 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, the Telegraph added.

Flybe expands summer 2016 schedule from Southampton

The UK-based regional airline Flybe has announced upgrades to its 2016 summer programme with additional frequency and return of popular summer sun routes to Spain and Portugal.

The European budget airline has expanded its 2016 summer schedule from Southampton Airport with the return of popular sun routes to Alicante, Malaga, Palma Mallorca and Faro. Seats are available for booking from £50.99 including taxes and charges. The airline has also increased summer frequency on some other key routes including many serving regional France.

Under the expanded schedule, starting March 30 to October 29, Flybe will operate a thrice weekly service to Alicante, increasing to daily flights from May, with double daily flights available on Wednesdays during August. From July 1 to October 28, flight services will be operated to Malaga on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sundays.

In addition, starting May 22 to October 29, Flybe will operate four flights a week to Palma Mallorca on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Additional Friday flights will be operated from July 1 to September 30, with double daily flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays during August. From July 2 to October 27, Flybe will now offer a thrice weekly service on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays to Faro operated using a 118-seat E195 jet.

Furthermore, Flybe has increased services on many of its most popular French regional routes, including those to Brest, Limoges and Perpignan. Daily flights will be operated to Bordeaux and Rennes, and double daily to Bergerac in August, daily flights to La Rochelle between July 1 and September 3 as well as three flights a week to Verona during August.

Under the extended 2016 Summer schedule, Flybe now offers 25 routes from Southampton offering passengers a choice of up to 329 flights a week to an extensive range of destinations.

Giving customers a chance to visit some of the sought-after sun destinations and new cities, the airline has also launched its biggest sale of the year offering one million seats available across its network from £27.99 one way including taxes and charges. Bookings can be made until midnight on Tuesday January 12, 2016 at www.flybe.com effective for travel between February 1 and July 20, 2016.

easyJet predicts record holiday travel this summer

British low-fares airline easyJet said that it is expecting almost 14 million passengers to fly out of the UK this summer – between mid-July and the end of September.

Spain tops the list of the most popular destinations with Malaga, Barcelona, Palma and Alicante featuring within the top five. Faro, Nice and Paphos are also popular among British holidaymakers in search for ‘guaranteed’ sun.

Sophie Dekkers, UK Director for easyJet, commented: ‘Our record bookings this summer show that the strong pound is having an effect on British holidaymakers who can see their pound will stretch further on holiday. With some bookies also having suspended betting on this summer being the wettest on record UK passengers aren’t taking their chances.

‘For those who haven’t yet booked, there are still some bargains to be had for a last minute summer deal to escape the British weather.’

For British holidaymakers who are yet to book for summer, easyJet has over five million seats for sale between August 1 and September 30 to Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

Fares available for booking include: London Luton to Bordeaux from £41.56, London Gatwick to Lyon from £48.14, London Gatwick to Marseille from £49.18, Southend to Venice from £45.40, London Gatwick to Nice from £48.77; London Gatwick to Nantes from £47.22 and London Gatwick to Toulouse from £49.77, the airline said. The fares indicated are per person, one way, based on two people travelling on the same booking.

One of Europe’s most popular airlines, easyJet carries over 66 million passengers annually, of which more than 12 million are travelling on business. The budget airline flies over 230 aircraft on more than 750 routes to over 130 airports across 31 countries.

 

Vueling launches Birmingham-Barcelona service

Spain’s leading low cost carrier, Vueling Airlines, has launched a new service between Barcelona and Birmingham Airport, according to a release by Birmingham Airport.

Vueling will initially operate three weekly services between Birmingham and Barcelona El Prat Airport. During the peak summer months, the airline will offer up to five flights a week.

William Pearson, Birmingham Airport’s Aviation Development Director, said: ‘It was fantastic to see our newest airline, Vueling, land into Birmingham today. The carrier will add more than 27,000 seats to Barcelona from Birmingham and give passengers a choice of more than 140 destinations on the Vueling network across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

‘We are extremely pleased that Vueling, which is a very successful and strong brand in Europe that offers very affordable fares, has chosen Birmingham for its newest route launch and we look forward to seeing more and more passengers use the new service over the coming year.’

Gabriel Schmilovich, Head of Network Planning, Scheduling and Slots at Vueling, added: ‘We are very happy to announce the launch of the route between Birmingham and Barcelona. With up to five flights per week during summer, passengers from Birmingham will not only be able to reach Barcelona but will also benefit from Vueling’s connections to many destinations like the Balearic Islands or Canary Islands, with a premium product and very competitive prices.’

The new service will add extra 21,600 seats to Barcelona from Birmingham and give passengers a choice of more than 140 destinations on the Vueling network across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Vueling said when it announced the new service last November.

Flights are on sale now with a lead in fare of €54,99 via vueling.com and ba.com or via travel agents. The new service will deploy a 180- seat A320 aircraft.

Vueling, Barcelona’s leading airline with almost 40 percent of the market share, is owned by the IAG group and offers code shares with airlines including British Airways and Iberia. This not only offers customers a multitude of connections across the group’s network, but also allows customers to redeem BA air miles and Avios points.

Brittany Ferries offers more ‘economie’ sailings to Le Havre and Bilbao

Ferry and holiday company Brittany Ferries has announced it has chartered a vessel, which will operate under its ‘no-frills’ Brittany Ferries economie brand, starting May 2015.

The additional ship will serve the Portsmouth to Le Havre route (four times a week) and the Portsmouth to Bilbao route (once a week).

Launched last March, the economie brand is aimed at customers who wish to travel to France or Spain without the cruise-style experience typically provided by Brittany Ferries. One-way fares for a car plus two this May start from £79 to France and £209 to Spain. Bookings for the additional ship will open in early February.

The new vessel is currently named ‘Sirena Seaways,’ although she will be renamed on entering service with Brittany Ferries. Facilities and space on board are limited compared to Brittany Ferries’ cruise-ferry services, but will include a cafe, bar, boutique and restaurant, as well as free Wi-Fi internet access and a reading lounge.

Brittany Ferries also said that customers can mix and match economie sailings with the company’s other cruise-ferry and high speed sailings to Normandy, Brittany and northern Spain, travelling out by one route and returning by another. In total there are 10 routes and up to 142 weekly sailings, giving customers a degree of added flexibility and choice.

Mike Bevens, Group Commercial Director, said: ‘We have been really pleased with the demand for our new no-frills service so this additional ship will provide a welcome boost in capacity and provide our customers with an even wider range of sailing times. Furthermore, it now brings the total number of services to Spain to seven a week, again providing more choice.’

The ship is certified to carry 610 passengers, but Brittany Ferries has said that it will restrict the numbers well below so that passengers have enough space to enjoy the journey. There are 196 cabins, of which 14 will be pet-friendly. Portsmouth-Le Havre remains the only route between the UK and France to offer this feature, aimed at meeting the rising demand for cross-Channel pet travel.