Flying into the weekend as airlines dominate the travel news headlines!
Chalkmarks: Chalkmarks written in the sand at Laguna Beach, Orange County, California, US

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 3rd February 2023

Hello there. It’s Friday so that means we’re off for some fun at the Destinations Show in London. Yay! Plus, it’s the end of dry January. Hooray! Hic! First of all, happy third Brexit anniversary. What everyone in the country needs now is a holiday…to Europe. Just bants peeps! But seriously, how about swapping this lil’ isle for five fabulous islands just a short hop away?
If you’re looking to explore history then somewhere to sit and enjoy the views, get to Venice. If you’re a foodie and like walking, head for Sicily. If you want to feel like you’re at home but warmer, then it’s got to be Malta. If you’re after adventure, book Iceland, and if you want beaches and activity, then Tenerife is the top spot. All come with sunshine, sea and sandcastles (mostly).
While you’re deciding, let’s round-up this week’s the travel headlines!

Going places!

Success story: Holidaymakers have been on a Ryanair spending spree over the past three months creating massive profits for the budget airline. Christmas and pent-up travel demand saw its profits soar to £185 million since October – that’s more than double what it made in the same period pre-pandemic, which was £77 million. Passenger numbers are also up 7 per cent with 38.4 million travellers. Boss Michael O’Leary, said: “Woohoo”. Unofficially! Sky News had the story. Ryanair then added four new routes this summer from Liverpool to Ibiza, Madrid, Shannon and Rome. Travel Weekly has the details.

Unsuccess story: It all ended in tears for Flybe…again. The last time we wrote about the Birmingham airline here on Chalkmarks was in March 2022. We reported that Flybe was back, having collapsed in March 2020 during the pandemic. At the time, they tweeted their excitement. But, it wasn’t to last. On Saturday morning it went bust causing chaos for up to 75,000 passengers, especially the 2,500 who had their flights cancelled last minute. They tweeted: “We are sad to announce that Flybe has been placed into administration.” Ryanair and British Airways offered paid “rescue flights” and train company LNER allowed free rail travel to anyone with a Flybe ticket. The Civil Aviation Authority gave advice for those trying to get refunds.

Groundhog Day: There’s just one more rail strike this week and that’s happening today. It’s train drivers again from the two unions Aslef and RMT taking part in industrial action. Expect delays. Network Rail advises to check before you travel

Also walking out: Heathrow boss John Holland Kaye, who led the airport through the pandemic and all the ups and downs, including the 100,000 daily passenger cap, when travel reopened, announced yesterday he would stand down after nine years. He will stay until another chief executive is found. 

Down the line: The Government is spending £2.7 million to look into building five new train stations in southeast Wales to ease congestion on the M4. One option includes building the stations between Cardiff and the Severn Tunnel. There was no indication when any of this might happen. Bristol Live covered the story.

Back in business: Yesterday British Airways and Virgin announced they would restart flights to China – more than two years after the pandemic. BA will start flights from Heathrow to Shanghai on the 23rd April and Virgin from the 1st May. BA will add Heathrow to Beijing on 3rd June. Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, Juha Järvinen, told the Guardian: “The return of our Shanghai services has been a long time coming.” In January we reported the reopening of China’s borders ending three years of zero-Covid restrictions. Travellers no longer have to quarantine on arrival. For Britons, entry remains difficult and a visa is required. 

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

Cleaner future: Emirates told us it flew a Boeing 777 with one engine running on sustainable fuel for a test flight. The aircraft took off from Dubai, circled around the coastline and came safely back down. Emirates tweeted the news: “This landmark flight will help pave the way for future industry approval of 100% SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) flying.”

Off piste: I’ve died and reached the city of heaven. No, I haven’t. I’ve just been on the piste in the French Alps. One minute I was standing up, the next I was on my back looking up at domes of soft, white powder. It was mid-morning in Les Contamines-Montjoie at the foot of Mont Blanc and this was my first skiing lesson. This is a great place to learn for nervous nellies like me.  Some would rather it was kept hush hush unlike nearby skiing mecca Chamonix – one of the most famous for advanced skiers. Just across the Swiss border – an hour from Geneva airport – Les Contamines’s billed as a Scandinavian-style resort, which means you can tick off Nordic sports such as ski jumping, snowshoe walking, biathlon, ice climbing and telemark skiing. There’s also ice-skating, snowboarding and Arctic dog sledging. Here’s one of Europe’s best kept skiing secrets.

Cinderella will go to the ball: Born in 1576, Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire is in need of some restoration after years of rain damage. Said to have inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle, conservation work is already underway to preserve the pink tower house for future generations. The National Trust for Scotland has launched its Pink Again campaign to help raise funds for the repairs. The castle is expected to reopen in 2024. The BBC has the story. 

This time last year: Holiday hotspots: The arrivals and departures! Just after news broke that all testing was being scrapped in the UK, there was a surge in bookings. Passengers though must still wear masks on board. What was amazing was how fast things moved. Research by Compare the Market revealed that almost one in three Britons had booked a holiday for 2022. It was extraordinary. Elsewhere, British Airways brought back complimentary food and drink on its short-haul flights. Coronation Street restarted its behind-the-scenes tours after closing for two years during the pandemic. Also, Guinness announced it was opening a micro-brewery in London in the autumn of 2023 at Old Brewer’s Yard in Covent Garden.

In case you don’t follow us on social media you really should. Here we are, here too and over here. Say hola muchacha! 

In memory of John!

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