Flybe launches first phase of 2019 summer schedule from Cardiff Airport

Flybe, the European regional airline, has announced the first phase of its 2019 summer schedule from Cardiff, offering a range of destinations for both leisure and business customers, Wales’ national airport said in a release.

As part of the first phase of Flybe’s summer 2019 schedule at Cardiff Airport, the airline will increase its services to Paris Charles de Gaulle to 10 return flights a week, and five return flights a week to Glasgow; extend ski flights to Chambery and Geneva until the end of April for Easter; and introduce popular routes to Faro, Venice, Milan Malpensa and Rome Fiumicino and key business routes including Belfast City, Dublin and Edinburgh. The announcement of extra flights to Paris and Glasgow comes after increased demand for these destinations, and further capacity will be added when the second phase is released in the coming weeks, the airline said.

Allowing customers to plan early, seats are now on sale at flybe.com and are currently available for travel to and from Cardiff between March 31 and June 16, 2019. All routes will be operated on three aircraft now based at Cardiff Airport. Details of schedules will be available at www.flybe.com.

Flybe CCO, Roy Kinnear, commented: ‘We have listened to our customers’ feedback and know that many like to plan their travel far in advance. Our new schedule features many of our most popular high frequency services and also highlights Flybe’s ongoing commitment to unparalleled connectivity from regional airports to destinations across the UK, Europe and beyond.’

Cardiff Airport’s CEO, Deb Barber, added: ‘It’s great to see Flybe adding flights for Summer 2019 on sale early, giving our customers that extra time to plan, book and benefit from great fares.’

Flybe, which opened its Cardiff base in 2015, offers multiple opportunities for onward travel either with its own services or via its 11 code share partner airlines. The options are available via the ‘One Stop to the World’ link at http://onestop.flybe.com/en-GB/flights.

easyJet announces four new routes from Belfast

easyJet, one of Europe’s leading airlines, has announced the launch of four new routes on its Belfast network, with flights to the Isle of Man and Venice launched on June 22, followed by flights to Naples and Valencia on June 23, 2018.

The new easyJet flights to the Isle of Man will operate twice a week throughout the year, with fares starting from £22.66; flights to Venice will operate twice a week throughout the year, with fares starting from £27.71; flights to Naples will operate twice a week throughout the summer season, with fares starting from £18.70; and the flights to Valencia will operate twice a week throughout the summer season, with fares starting from £26.70. The fares are all one-way, including taxes and based on two people on the same booking.

easyJet also announced the expansion at its Belfast base, with the addition of a third A320 aircraft – the sixth aircraft it has at its Northern Ireland base. The 186-seat aircraft will remain based in Belfast throughout the year and joins three 156-seat Airbus A319 and two 186-seat A320 aircraft. With the introduction of the new routes, easyJet now operates up to 624 flights a week across 32 routes, with eight percent more flights compared to summer 2017.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be celebrating further expansion at Belfast Airport. The addition of another aircraft and even more routes will help us to deliver long term, sustainable growth at the base providing passengers with a greater range of destinations, all with low fares and great service.

‘Our ongoing growth demonstrates the airline’s long-term commitment to Northern Ireland, and with fares as low as GBP18.70*, that’s 37% cheaper than when we launched our first route for GBP29.99 from Belfast over 18 years ago. easyJet is the largest airline in Northern Ireland and we are proud to have carried over 55 million passengers in that time.’

Graham Keddie, Managing Director at Belfast International Airport, said: ‘Belfast International Airport welcomes the new easyJet routes to Naples, Venice, Valencia and the Isle of Man. The addition of a sixth easyJet aircraft to the five already based at the airport is a huge boost. In a year that we expect will be record-breaking for the airport, this enhances our route offering for passengers and also shows the value that easyJet places upon its operation at Belfast International Airport and the importance of the Northern Ireland market.’

Flybe commences summer 2018 schedule at Cardiff with flights to Venice

Flybe, the Europe’s largest regional airline, has recently launched its 2018 summer schedule from Cardiff Airport, featuring 17 routes with a total choice of up to 75 flights a week.

The UK-based airline commenced its summer 2018 schedule with the launch of the first ever service between Cardiff and Venice, with the inaugural flight taking off from Cardiff on March 27.

Venice is Flybe’s fourth Italian route from Cardiff offering twice weekly flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The service is also timed to suit the needs of holidaymakers looking for a Mediterranean cruise. The fares start from £29.99.

Roy Kinnear, Flybe’s Chief Commercial Officer, commented: ‘We are delighted to include yet another new route to Italy from our Cardiff base this summer and look forward to welcoming many new passengers on board. We are passionate about connecting people and communities and offering the widest choice of destinations possible with time saving, punctual and affordable travel.’

Deb Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airport, added: ‘The start of Flybe’s new Venice route is a welcome addition to their ever expanding choice of destinations available from Cardiff and to see a busy first flight out is testament to this. What a great way to mark the start of Flybe’s third summer season at Wales’ national airport!’

Eastern Airways and Blue Islands, the franchise partners of Flybe, have also started operating their new summer schedules with four additional routes. The full schedule of services is now available for booking at www.flybe.com.

Flybe has codeshare agreements with several long haul airlines to provide both business and leisure customers with onward connections from Cardiff to destinations across the globe.

easyJet launches new Luton – Venice service

easyJet, a UK-based airline and the largest operator at London Luton Airport, has launched the inaugural flight of its services to Venice from Luton on Thursday, February 13.

To mark the occasion, the aircraft was flanked by giant Venetian masks in commemoration of the city’s famous ‘Carnivale’ and masquerade balls. Gavin Shuker, member of parliament for Luton South, joined the celebration as an honorary cabin crew member to welcome passengers aboard.

Launched just in time for Valentine’s Day, the new flights to the romantic city of Venice make it easyJet’s fifth Italian destination from London Luton Airport, along with Catania, Milan, Olbia and Pisa.

Sophie Dekkers, easyJet’s UK market director, said: ‘We’re thrilled to be launching our new services to Venice, easyJet’s 39th destination from London Luton Airport. easyJet flies over 4.5 million passengers in and out of Luton each year and we’re pleased to be expanding the choice and variety of our destinations from the airport.

‘This uniquely beautiful city offers something for everyone and we’re sure our easy and affordable services will be very popular.’

MP, Gavin Shuker, said: ‘It’s been great to join easyJet’s crew and passengers and celebrate the launch of the new Venice flights. easyJet and London Luton Airport are two of Luton and the region’s largest employers and it was fantastic to see this in action today.’

Annually, over 50,000 passengers are expected to use the new services between London Luton and Venice, which depart each Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Fares are available from GBP31.83 one way, including taxes.

Take a step back in time with the refurbished VSOE this season

The refurbished luxury Venice Simplon Orient Express is ready to take to the rails around Europe this coming season, with iconic journeys spanning London, Venice and Budapest along its route.

Following the end of the 2012 season last November, the train has spent the winter months under a period of refurbishment, particularly to two of its three restaurant cars. In planning for years, furnishings have been removed, sandblasting has taken place, and the exterior has been repainted in the train’s iconic royal blue shade before varnishing.

Covering the routes once favoured by Agatha Christie, the train has kept its 1920’s charm and its Art Deco features with the help of artisan experts.

For the first time in its history, the train will take on a trip to Stockholm this year on a new itinerary. Departing Venice on April 8th, it will take in the sights of Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark, with the final leg being Copenhagen to Stockholm.

The train’s signature voyage of London to Venice via Paris will be available throughout the season, as will be an annual trip to Istanbul via overnight stays in Bucharest and Budapest.

On May 22nd and October 23rd, guests can travel to London from Venice via Budapest and Vienna on a four-night trip, while another route to London from Venice will take in Prague, departing May 1st, June 5th and October 2nd.

The company is currently promoting a number of offers for travellers this season, including 300 Euros complimentary credit for on-board spending on any Venice to Paris or London, or Paris or London to Venice trips departing May, June or July. The credit can be used for champagne, caviar, fine wines, cocktails and gifts from the train’s boutique, amongst others.

Too much tourism affecting Venice

Reports indicate that too much tourism, especially high-impact, low revenue cruise tourism, is affecting the quality of Venice as a unique, must-see destination.

Recently, about two thirds of Venice was underwater with heavy rain and winds resulting in the sixth highest tide levels since 1872. Even though the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the status has not deterred cruise ship tourism from threatening to overwhelm the sinking city. Figures indicate that each day, more than 60,000 people visit Venice, which is more than the population of the city.

The biggest damage to the city comes from cruise tourists and their activities, with cruise tourism increasing by about 439 per cent in the past 15 years. Authorities are not able to do much about it because the city depends on tourism for its survival.

Peter Debrine, head of the World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme at UNESCO, said, ‘Tourism is a double-edged sword. You can’t have those kind of numbers come into a site and not have a negative impact. There are obviously many benefits to tourism. Venice is a unique case and there needs to be a balance. We cannot demonize the cruise industry. Local people own the real estate. UNESCO’s concern is of course the protection of heritage but with have to do it in collaboration with the tourism industry.’

Observers have long been accusing cruise ships of eroding the fragile structure of the city through tides that are caused when the ships land. Further, they also contribute to pollution and dwarf the city’s monuments.

The demographic situation arising out of tourism is unique in Venice with locals leaving the city for mainland Italy as the count of tourists increased. Since the 1950s, Venice’s population has fallen by more than two-thirds and now stands at a new low of 58,483.

Barrhead Travel Announces Summer Charter Flights from Glasgow

Barrhead Travel, a UK based holiday company, will be operating charter flights from Glasgow Airport, in Scotland, to a number of popular holiday destinations next summer.

The company intends to charter flights to Palma, Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona and Venice, offering a total of around 20,000 seats, between the May and October period in 2013.

The company has reported that seats are currently available on sale with a range of choices, including flight only reservations, as part of a traditional holiday package, or as a connection to cruise departure points in the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas.

Barrhead Travel is offering its charter flights with British Airways aircraft, with amenities that include more legroom for passengers and more luggage allowance.

Sharon Munro, the chief executive officer of Barrhead Travel, said, ‘We strive to give our customers greater choice and value and chartering more flights during the summer months to some of our most popular destinations and cruise ships enables us to give them the best prices possible.

2013 will see our most ambitious flight programme to date, including new routes from Aberdeen to Barcelona, Glasgow to Alicante and three flights per week due to public demand from Glasgow to Palma. The flights will give our agents more flexibility to tailor cost effective holiday options or are available for customers to book directly online.’

Amanda McMillan, the managing director of Glasgow Airport, said, ‘Barrhead Travel has always proved a popular choice for Scottish holidaymakers and we have worked closely with them over the last three summers to ensure their flight programme from Glasgow Airport has been successful.

It is great news for Scottish holidaymakers that Barrhead has expanded its Glasgow Airport programme every year since it began in 2010. With five popular destinations in 2013, we are confident that our partnership is on course for another successful summer.’

The Top Five Short Breaks from London

Cox & Kings, a UK-based travel company, has listed top five European cities for short breaks from London.

Berlin, Germany

Since the World Wars, the city of Berlin has played an important role in shaping the history of Europe. The present city is a lively tourists hotspot, offering various attractions including the tree-lined boulevard of Unter den Linden, the century-old, Hackescher Markt station, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag parliament building.

A four-night stay in Berlin costs around £625 per person.

St Petersburg, Russia

St Petersburg city is replete with buildings that reflect Neoclassical and Baroque architecture, interwoven with numerous waterways. It offers many visitor attractions including one of the world’s largest museums, the State Hermitage museum, which hosts a large collection of oriental, Russian and western European art.

A three-night stay in St Petersburg costs around £455 per person.

Istanbul, Turkey

The Turkish city of Istanbul is said to offer a blend of Asian and European charm. Tourist attractions include the Blue Mosque, the Ottoman sultans’ Topkapi Palace, and the former Orthodox basilica, Hagia Sophia. Turkish baths or Hamams are also a popular spa experience.

A three-night stay in Istanbul costs around £455 per person.

Venice, Italy

Venice is the city of palazzos, piazzas, courtyards and marbled churches, which throughout history have drawn tourists from far and wide. An experience that is not to be missed is a cruise on a gondolier along the city’s many canals.

A four-night stay in Venice costs around £345 per person.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest offers travellers cafes, restaurants, boutiques and spas. Places to see include the Buda Castle quarter, a UNESCO world heritage site that is around 700 years old, Andrassy Avenue, one of the city’s boulevards, and the Central Market Hall.

A three-night stay in Budapest costs around £345 per person.

Tourist tax begins in Venice

Venice has become even more expensive for tourists, when last week the ‘tourist tax’ came in to force.

When plans emerged from the Venetian authorities last year about the plans to charge tourists a fee for overnight stays, they were met with critisism.

Tourists wanting a relaxing weekend break will now have to pay as much as €5 per person.

The fee is determined by hotel star-ratings, with a couple staying in a 3-star hotel paying an extra €6 on top of the bill.

Luxury travellers staying at one of the city’s gilded five-star options – such as the celebrated Hotel Cipriani – will have to pay the full €5 each.

Defending the ‘tourist tax’ Venice has suggested it is a cultural donation rather than a government levy interested in squeezing a little more from its tourist economy that sees 60,000 people visit every day.

Imposed to protect the city, the imposta di soggiorno, is said to be needed to protect the heritage of Venice which was once at the centre of the European empire.

‘This tax is a new and important opportunity for the city,’ Venice’s deputy mayor Sandro Simionato recently said. ‘The fundamental objective, which will also involve tourists who visit and love Venice, is to save this unique city, which is precious and fragile.’

A brochure outlines the reasons behind the new tax.

‘You will become one of the city’s sponsors, contributing to safeguarding it,’ the brochure explains.

It is illustrate with a sticker that states: ‘Thank you for being a sponsor of the splendour of Venice.’

Mr Simionato’s also stated:

‘The tax will help finance tourism, maintenance of cultural heritage sites, the environment, as well as public services’.

This may not please the tourists that will now be sponsoring domestic funding for the city.

Local authorities will be allowed, through government rules, the spend revenue on public services – tourists could end up paying for matters that should be covered by Italian tax euros.

Venice accommodation tax delayed

Following scenes of protest, walkouts by certain councillors, and ultimately a lack of quorum, the debate and vote on Venice’s proposed accommodation tax was delayed on Monday evening (June 20). Outside the chambers, people held up banners decrying money being wasted and suggested that not just tourists but also locals will feel more tax burden under the various proposals on the table.
The fallout from these events is that the council reconvened on Thursday, June 23 and that any resolution would mean that an accommodation tax is unlikely to come into force before August 23.

Prior to the council meeting, Mayor Orsoni held conciliatory meetings with the local hotel association, which has expressed its opposition and made clear that it sees managing tourism in the city as a very delicate balancing act. While the proposed tariff system is very similar to Florence’s (one euro, per star, per person, per night), there remains some uncertainty about whether Mestre and minor islands would be charged a lower rate.

“This is an interesting development, even surprising, given that initially this vote was seen as a formality,” said Nick Greenfield, Head of Tour Operator Relations at ETOA, “ETOA has spoken in the past about the need to consult with the travel industry and also to work to a realistic and sensible timetable that respects business cycles. Rome and Florence have caused a lot of bad will by introducing these taxes in a very haphazard, last-minute way. Perhaps, belatedly, Venice will now recognise the need for dialogue and clarity.

“Venice is a unique city, a very popular destination, and tourism is crucial to its economy. The city faces some challenges in terms of infrastructure; the very nature of the place means that it feels pressures that other cities do not. The way to move forward is to involve our industry at every stage to ensure that the future of the city’s most important sector is in safe hands.”