The last summer of cheap flights: Travel while you can before holiday prices soar!
Chalkmarks: Tranquil: A wooden pletna boat on Lake Bled, Slovenia

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 12th August 2022

Welcome, it’s a sweltering hot summer’s day. Everything is soaring this week: Energy bills, inflation, the temperature and now flight tickets. You’d think the reaction would be: “No! Oh, please. Not now.” But no, bookings are up – and for some airlines back to 2019 levels. We just can’t get enough. We should know we’re off to Brussels and then inter railing through Europe. But if prices start rising too much, very soon the question will have to be answered: to fly or not to fly? Home or away? It could mean we’ll be seeing a lot more of the British isles – but when the weather is like this, it’s not a bad trade off. Talking of holidays. Here’s what made this week’s travel headlines. 

Hot, hot, hot!

How much? The Daily Telegraph reported that UK travellers face forking out double what they paid in 2019 for an air fare to Athens, Greece, the Algarve, Portugal and Bangkok, Thailand. The data comes from travel website Kayak and revealed that on average prices are up 30 per cent on tickets from London to Europe compared to August 2019 and have risen 20 per cent to Asia and the Middle East.

Message from Ryanair: The €10 ticket is over. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme Michael O’Leary said the average fare would rise from €40 (£33.75) to €50 (£42) by 2027. As for the €9.99 euro fares he said:  “I think you will not see those fares for the next number of years.” Despite the rises he said he was confident people would still travel. The BBC had the story.

High life: Several airlines came close to bankruptcy during the pandemic – some folded – but business is booming again. German airline Lufthansa announced profits of €393million (£331million) for the second quarter of 2022. It’s impressive but not surprising as everyone wanted to go on holiday. But due to chronic staff shortages, airlines are operating fewer flights meaning they can charge more per seat. “The business model really works so well right now,” its boss Carsten Spohr said. Brings new meaning to the term budget airline! The i had the story.

Big payout: Holiday giant Tui revealed that the long airport queues that led to flight delays and cancellations had cost it £63 million. The package holiday operator said passengers were affected by 200 cancelled flights in May and June, particularly those flying from Manchester. Trade magazine TTG reported that Tui boss Sebastian Ebel would be seeking compensation from the airports.

More turbulence: Wizz air said it was cancelling flights to Alicante, Corfu, Heraklion, Faro, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el-Sheikh and Tenerife from 19th September until April 2023 as they are no longer viable. It would continue to fly to Milan, Italy, and Bucharest, Romania. Passengers have been given the option rebook their holiday from another airport, take a refund or accept a 120 per cent airline credit. WalesOnline captured the reaction with one traveller saying it was “absolutely shocking”.

Chaos to calm: Better news came from Heathrow Airport which announced the queues and the delays had started to ease following its passenger cap to 100,000 people a day. Its boss John Holland-Kaye, said travellers were now experiencing “better, more reliable journeys”. The Independent had the story. 

Aussie rules: Qantas wins the prize for going the extra (air) mile when it comes to dealing with the shortage of baggage handlers at airports. The airline has asked its chief executives at head office to help out loading and offloading bags until November. It said: “We’ve been pulling out all stops to improve our performance.” ITV News had the story.

Rail strike recap: Tomorrow (Saturday 13th August) Aslef train drivers walk out for 24-hours affecting Arriva Rail London, Avanti West Coast, Greater Anglia, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, LNER, Southeastern, Hull Trains, West Midlands Trains and London Overground. Then on Thursday thousands of members from RMT, TSSA and Unite will take part in a Network Rail strike affecting 14 train companies. More to come…

Anything else? Yes from Sunday, Avanti West Coast, which runs services from London Euston to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow, has cut its trains down to just one an hour to each city. This will continue until further notice. Avanti has also suspended ticket sales from Sunday (14th August) to 11th September to reduce disruption and avoid last-minute cancellations. 

Letter from the mayors: Manchester’s Andy Burnham and London’s Sadiq Khan wrote a strongly worded letter to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps saying Avanti’s action to reduce its services was “completely unacceptable”. They demanded urgent talks. Avanti blames “severe staff shortages through increased sickness, as well as unofficial strike action by Aslef members”. Aslef said there had been no “unofficial action” saying the train company didn’t have enough drivers to run its services.

American dreams: The trending destinations for Americans visiting Europe this year is France, Italy and Germany with the UK coming in fourth place. Sharing its research on Twitter, the European Travel Commission also revealed that August was second most popular month for US travellers to visit Europe with cities their preferred choice followed by beaches. 

Feastern Europe: Boris Johnson and his new wife Carrie returned from their honeymoon in Slovenia. This gives us an excuse to revisit the time we were there. As one of the smallest countries in the world it ticks all the holiday boxes. It’s mountainous and covered in forest with lots of protected landscapes and Unesco-listed spas and castles. It touches the snowcapped Alps in the northwest and the shores of Adriatic sea in the southwest. Ljubljana is its stunning capital. Maribor is renowned for wine making and Lake Bled in the Julian Alps is its number one tourist pull. Slovenia was named Europe’s culinary capital in 2021 – the first country, as opposed to region, to get the title. If you don’t know where to start, click here and here. 

The crystal kingdom: For your next road trip visit the southeast corner of Germany for a drive along the ancient Glass Road. This iconic 155-mile touring route winds through the towns and villages in the depths of the Bavarian Forest taking in an emporium of glassmaking factories. For hundreds of years this has been a kingdom of fine crystal glass blowing and today many still use the traditional method. Drop into and shop at the world’s finest glass manufactures including Theresienthal, Eisch and Schott. Taking three-to-four days, stop to see the “Glass Forest”, the biggest glass pyramid in the world and the Glassmaker’s Village in Frauenau. If you haven’t discovered it you can explore it here.

Send tips: Five-star resort Cameron House on Loch Lomond, which costs up to £610 a night, made headlines over its tipping policy. Sixty staff members said they were losing out on hundreds of pounds after the tip system was restructured – previously shared out among a department and now split across the whole hotel. One said he was losing £300 a month. The Unite union said this was “staggering abuse – a posh resort for the rich fleecing the tips of minimum-wage workers.” The hotel said it gives staff all tips and was looking to resolve the issue. The BBC had the story.

Walk the talk: The famous Coast-to-Coast from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire is to become an official National Trail. Today Natural England announced the route that crosses three National Parks – the Lake District, the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors – is getting £5.6 million upgrade to pay for raising standards. This will ensure the 197-mile walk devised by fellwalker Alfred Wainwright in 1973 is accessible to everyone, with better signage and new circular routes added for shorter walks. The work should be completed by 2025. The Guardian has more.

Bucket list tick!

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