easyJet announces spring and early summer flights on sale across Europe

easyJet, the UK-based budget airline, has announced the sale of its flight services for spring and early summer 2018, offering flights across Europe for booking until June 24, 2018.

The European budget airline is offering a number of routes from across UK airports to destinations including Bristol to Faro from £28.49, Bristol to Cyprus Paphos from £58.49, Bristol to Barcelona from £24.99, London Gatwick to Barcelona from £24.99, Liverpool to Alicante from £17.99, Newcastle to Malaga from £17.99, Bristol to Naples from £30.49, and London Stansted to Naples from £26.99. Fares are per person, one way, based on two people travelling on the same booking. Tickets are available for booking at www.easyjet.com, the airline said.

Sophie Dekkers, easyJet’s UK Director, said: ‘We’re really pleased to be putting our flights for spring 2018 on sale today. Passengers can look forward to even more low fares to Europe’s best beach and city destinations.’

‘For those who are looking for inspiration on where to go on their break, our Inspire Me app available on our website helps travellers to find flights tailored to their budget and travel dates.’

easyJet Holidays have also launched holidays up until June 24, 2017 with an offer of up to £120 off per booking, including peak season times such as Christmas and New Year, when booked by November 2, 2017.

easyJet has bases across 11 UK airports and flies to more than 800 routes on its network across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

easyJet to launch new routes to Stockholm and Athens from Bristol Airport

easyJet, the UK-based low-fares airline, has recently announced plans to start two new routes from Bristol Airport to Stockholm and Athens later this year.

The new service to Sweden’s capital city – Stockholm – will start on October 31, 2017, operating twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays year round with fares starting from £26.49 one-way. The new route to Athens, the capital city of Greece, will operate every Monday and Friday starting from November 6, 2017 with fares starting from £28.49 one-way.

The new routes are available to book at www.easyjet.com. The fares are one-way, including taxes and based on two people on the same booking.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager, said: ‘We’re really pleased to announce these two new beautiful destinations to our network from Bristol Airport and we are confident they’ll be very popular with our passengers. Many people are already starting to plan ahead for their Winter holidays and with flights now on sale, they can take advantage of our low fares.

‘With these two new routes, easyJet now flies to 64 destinations across Europe and beyond from Bristol Airport. It’s one of the biggest bases in our network and we’re committed to ensuring we continue to provide the best service and choice of destinations to our passengers in the South-West.’

Nigel Scott, Bristol Airport’s Business Development Director said: ‘The announcement of these two new routes by easyJet is very exciting news for Bristol Airport. Athens and Stockholm are destinations our customers have frequently told us they would like to see served directly from the region, and their addition to our network increases the number of European capital cities we serve to 18 – the largest number in the airport’s 60-year history.

‘These new routes will also support our ongoing efforts to grow inbound tourism to the South West and Wales, and we look forward to working with easyJet as well as our partners in the tourism industry to promote the fantastic attractions of the region to an even wider audience.’

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 Ryanair.com website to avoid being misled or overcharged.’

British Airways adds new German routes from London City Airport

British Airways has announced plans to expand its German network and aircraft fleet at London City Airport this summer with two new routes and an additional Embraer 190 jet.

As per the plan, the British airline will launch new thrice-a-day flights to both Berlin and Hamburg. Together with the existing services to Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, the airline will operate more than 70 flights each week to Germany direct from the Docklands.

This is the first time that British Airways has operated to Berlin from London City. The new route will commence on June 19 on an Embraer jet and each way hand baggage only fares are available from GBP49. While Hamburg is currently served by British Airways’ franchise partner SunAir, starting May 8 British Airways will serve the route using larger Saab 2000 aircraft, more than doubling the number of seats available. Each way hand baggage only fares are available from GBP79.

The new 98-seat aircraft, which will arrive in June, will be the 20th Embraer to join the British Airways fleet at London City, and will create 20 new jobs at the airport as well as additional roles for the companies that supply the airline.

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer, London City, said: ‘Germany is a very important market for us and these new routes give both our business and leisure customers a much wider choice of destinations with a well-timed schedule. As the largest airline operating at London City we are giving customers what they want, excellent network and frequencies, a choice of 32 destinations in the UK, Europe and the USA and low all-inclusive fares.

‘We are also delighted to take delivery of our 20th Embraer, an aircraft which is very popular with our customers for its comfort, style and low noise and emissions levels.’

With the extra routes, British Airways will have its busiest ever summer at London City Airport where it will operate over half the flights. The airline has recently announced more seats to European holiday hotspots this summer from Heathrow (to Athens, Lisbon and Gibraltar) and from Gatwick (to Tenerife, Lanzarote and Funchal).


Ryanair urges Google to enforce greater transparency following customer complaints

Irish low fares airline Ryanair has urged Google to enforce greater transparency on its online advertising following extensive complaints from Ryanair customers who have been misled into booking Ryanair flights on non-Ryanair websites, purposely designed to mislead customers.

According to the airline, screenscraper websites such as eDreams have been paying for Google advertising to have their websites rank above the official Ryanair website on Google searches, which Ryanair claims is misleading Ryanair customers into visiting the eDreams website, masquerading as Ryanair.com, and booking with eDreams.

Ryanair also urged customers to book directly on Ryanair.com and called on Google to enforce greater transparency on its advertising rules, to prevent European customers being misled and overcharged.

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said: ‘As Europe’s largest airline, Ryanair has received numerous complaints from our customers who have inadvertently purchased Ryanair flights on the eDreams website, as a direct result of the misleading advertising provided by Google. EDreams has been unlawfully selling Ryanair flights, by masquerading as Ryanair.com, and then offering customers a substandard service, with additional fees, or by often selling fares that don’t even exist. While we have no issue with Google advertising in general, it is unfair that it is used as a mechanism to mislead customers.

Customers end up paying more for their flights, thinking they’ve bought Ryanair flights with Ryanair, and often their contact details aren’t passed on, meaning they can’t be contacted if their flight changes, and they also have trouble checking-in online. This is a particular problem for customers in the UK and Ireland.

Ryanair will continue to pursue screenscraper websites such as eDreams to prevent Europe’s consumers from being misled over price and booking conditions. We would again urge customers to book directly on the Ryanair.com website to guarantee the lowest fares and best customer service. In the meantime, we call on Google to enforce greater transparency of its advertising to prevent any more customers from being misled and overcharged.’

Ryanair has been engaged in several legal cases against screenscraper websites across Europe to prevent its customers from being subjected to additional, hidden charges and to ensure Ryanair has appropriate contact details to communicate with its customers. The Court of Hamburg recently ruled that eDreams has been using an unlawful subdomain and was misleading customers into thinking that it had an official partnership with Ryanair, the airline said.

UK’s air passenger charges amongst world’s highest

Travellers in the UK pay some of the world’s highest taxes on flying, according to a study by UHY Hacker Young, the national accountancy group.

The UK imposes Air Passenger Duty (APD) of £13 on short haul flights and £71 on long haul flights leaving from airports in England and Wales, but excluding flights from Northern Ireland. The study analysed taxes and compulsory government charges imposed per passenger on an economy class flight by 20 governments around the world. It also analysed additional charges imposed on a per passenger basis by airport operators.

According to the study, charges levied by the UK are currently the highest within the EU and well above the average for G7 countries, which is at £10 ($15) on short haul flights and £23 ($34) on long haul flights. The global average, based on countries where aviation taxes are imposed, is currently £15 ($23) on short haul flights and £35 ($53) on long haul flights. However, many countries such as Ireland, Slovakia and Belgium do not impose any taxes on individual air passengers currently.

According to researchers, the extra charges impact tourism, penalise SMEs trying to expand overseas, disadvantage remote regional cities, and also affect airlines’ abilities to offer less profitable routes. In addition, although taxes on flying are often billed as ‘green taxes’, in the UK, as elsewhere, the revenue raised is not utilised for environmental protection projects.

The report also noted that the UK government is presently adopting measures to reduce the high costs facing air passengers. In May this year, the APD for under-12s was abolished. As of April 1, charges on journeys over 4,000 miles were also reduced; however, levies on journeys between 2,000 and 4,000 miles have increased, it said.

Roy Maugham, Tax Partner of UHY Hacker Young, commented: ‘Airlines provide a crucial piece of infrastructure. They facilitate a great deal of economic activity that is essential for countries that want to benefit from globalisation. The higher taxes on flying in the UK hurt airlines, business users and consumers.’

‘The recent lowering of charges for under-12s and long haul travellers and the discussions in Northern Ireland indicate an awareness of the problem, but the reforms do not go far enough. Charges remain considerably higher than in many other EU countries.’

Commenting on the need for transparency in airport and airline charges, Maugham added: ‘In the UK and around the world, the issue of complex charges is an area where far greater progress needs to be made to ensure better transparency and competition. Businesses and consumers would greatly benefit if regulators and tax authorities kept aviation taxes low and ensured that charges were more transparent.’

bmi set to boost services on UK and Europe routes

British airline bmi regional is planning to increase routes from Bristol Airport and East Midlands Airport from September 3.

As part of a plan to increase services on core commercial routes, bmi regional is boosting its return services between Bristol and Aberdeen and from East Midlands to Brussels to three times a day on Wednesday and Thursday.

The additional service departs Bristol at 11.30am, arriving at Aberdeen at 12.50pm, while on return the service takes off from Aberdeen at 3pm and lands at Bristol at 4.25pm. The additional flight departs East Midlands at 1.15pm, arriving into Brussels at 3.25pm; while the flight departs the Belgian capital at 3.55pm, arriving at East Midlands at 4.10pm.

‘We connect key regional UK airports with leading commercial centres across the UK and Europe, which are in high demand by business and leisure travellers,’ said bmi regional CEO, Cathal O’Connell. ‘Aberdeen, Bristol, the East Midlands region and Brussels are financial and industrial centres that require connectivity to thrive and expand, and by boosting our schedule we’re enabling business and tourism to flourish.’

Shaun Browne, Aviation Director at Bristol Airport, said: ‘With these additional flights bmi regional is strengthening links between the South West and North East Scotland and underlining its commitment to businesses in both regions. The bmi regional route network from Bristol Airport is now well established with the business community and we look forward to further enhancements to routes and services in future.’

As part of the plan, bmi regional will also increase flights between Karlstad in Sweden and Frankfurt, Germany to double daily on four week days with a convenient schedule for business travellers, enabling one-day visits for meetings and events.

All bmi regional fares include 30-minute check-in, 20kg checked baggage and full in-flight food and bar service. Fares start from £79 one way including all taxes and charges.

Over a third of British travellers are safe bet bookers, Skyscanner

A third – over 38 percent – of British travellers considers themselves ‘safe bet bookers,’ according to a survey by leading travel search website Skyscanner.

In trying to understand the booking behaviour of travellers, Skyscanner had identified five distinct flight-booking types. The identification of the booker types also follows Skyscanner’s recent study, which found that the best time to book flights is, on average, five weeks before departure.

The Safe Bet Booker has been identified as one who book his flights as early as possible, reluctant to risk holding off in case flight prices should rise or flights sell out.

The Competitive Booker is one who books if the price looks reasonable, and once booked, he checks every day to see if the rates are still competitive.

The Efficient Booker will book immediately after deciding on the destination, regardless of whether he is getting a good deal and would seldom wait to check prices. Efficient bookers are generally cash rich but time poor.

The Gambler is the risk-taking booker who seeks to get the very best price even if that may mean waiting until the last minute.

The Spontaneous Booker is one who is generally laid back while both booking and on the place to go. He simply books a flight, if it looks good value.

While 38 percent nominated themselves as ‘safe bet bookers,’ only 11 percent of Brits will hold off booking until nearer the time of travelling, identifying themselves as Gamblers. Many more – nearly 29 percent – have identified themselves as competitive bookers, while 12 percent saw themselves as efficient bookers and a further 10 percent identified with the spontaneous booker type.

Skyscanner’s Mary Porter said: ‘This study shows that we all look at booking our flights in very different ways with some competitive types almost seeing it as a game or a challenge while others have a far more laid back approach.

Of course those who have to travel at a particular time are more likely to want to book in advance and we understand that – however our advice would be to track fares by signing up for price alerts, allowing them to see when lowest fares become available.’


Europe Strikes Disrupt Flights from UK

The aviation industry was severely affected on Wednesday of this week, following a call for industrial action by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in several European countries.

Flights were delayed and cancelled as air traffic controllers staged walk outs as part of the coordinated strike action across Europe, with workers leaving their posts in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy, while further protests were held in Belgium, Germany, and France.

The strikes became violet in a number of locations in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy, the four countries with above average unemployment rates in Europe. Unions in Spain commenced their protests as early as midnight of November 13, when the workers took to street in Madrid.

At least 70 people were injured in clashes with police, and some 140 arrests were made, while clashes in Lisbon resulted in injuries to around 50 people.

In calling for the industrial action, Bernadette Segol, the ETUC general secretary, said, ‘By sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety. In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity. Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets.

The Troika can no longer behave so arrogantly and brutally towards the countries which are in difficulty. They must urgently address the issues of jobs and social fiscal justice and they must stop their attacks on wages, social protection and public services.

The ETUC is calling for a social compact for Europe with a proper social dialogue, an economic policy that fosters quality jobs, and economic solidarity among the countries of Europe. We urgently need to change course.’

The industrial action has caused UK airlines, British Airways and Easyjet, to cancel or reschedule services to Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon and Thessalonaki in Greece, while a number of flights to Europe from London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports were also affected.

easyJet Warns of Flight Disruption in Europe

easyJet, the UK based airline, has announced a warning for its passengers flying to various destinations in Europe of a possible industrial action.

The airline is expecting hundreds of flights being cancelled and rescheduled across Europe, in view of a Europe-wide general strike called on Wednesday, November 14, 2012. The strike has been called by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), and will take place at different times in different countries.

The airline, in a statement, said, ‘easyJet has been advised of a General strike on 14th November organised by the European Trade Union Confederation with strikes and demonstrations across Europe.

This will effect different countries at different times during the day of the 14th November Spain and the Canary Islands will operate a 24 hour strike period from 00:01 to 23:59 and Greece will operate the strike period from 12:00/15:00.

easyJet are proactively trying to minimize disruption, however, we would like to warn customers that they could experience delays, to their travel plans.

Therefore it is with regret the following flights will either be delayed, rescheduled, or cancelled due to this action. We advise passengers planning to travel to/from these countries on 14th November to keep checking our website for updates.’

Bernadette Segol, the ETUC general secretary, said, ‘By sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety. In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity. Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets.

The Troika can no longer behave so arrogantly and brutally towards the countries which are in difficulty. They must urgently address the issues of jobs and social fiscal justice and they must stop their attacks on wages, social protection and public services.

The ETUC is calling for a social compact for Europe with a proper social dialogue, an economic policy that fosters quality jobs, and economic solidarity among the countries of Europe. We urgently need to change course.’