planes at dublin airport

Eoghan Corry Talks Travel – July 2024

Insider tips on Ryanair Sales, the latest on Aer Lingus strike, and new places to holiday in Spain and Canada – Eoghan Corry has this months travel talking points.

Reasons to be cheerful (one-two-three)

Sicily is one of the new holiday destinations from Ireland in 2024

Peak season can be pique season for holiday makers with strikes, delays and diversions. Aer Lingus is not the only airline facing a strike threat this year. When aircraft go tech there is often no aircraft on the ground to cover for them, and it can take a long time to get the spare part flown in.

So let us celebrate what is going right: firstly new routes, a record number of destinations from Ireland’s airports, secondly prices are not anything like they were predicted and some are available for less than they were sold in January, thirdly we have new options opening up in unlikely locations with clusters of new routes in places like Sicily. It is going to be the happiest summer.

Ryanair flash sales take a new turn

check in online with Ryanair

Ryanair’s flash sales have been a feature of Irish life since somebody invented the internet and cunningly told Michael O’Leary about it. This year we have seen six flash sales of 24 or 48 hours, two offering peak season travel, which is very post-pandemic, but we did not expect in the predicted year of plenty.

Students out for a bargain will have noticed the patterns, lead ins of six weeks to the travel date, three fare blocks per route, different fares for different days with midweek being cheapest, and targeted fare reductions to fill the ‘softer routes (insider tip: Chania and Olbia are the softest routes this summer).

When things got really bad during the global financial recession, Ryanair gave away flights for FREE on the premise that at least you could sell a free customer a carry-on bag or a cup of coffee – it happened three times, on September 22 2009 (48 hours), October 14 2009 (48 hours) and October 27 2009 (72 hours).

So why is July and August on sale when the CEO told us prices would be 20pc higher this year? We can only speculate that Ryanair under estimated how many seats they were selling through
online travel agencies, and got left with more than they expected.

Ryanair’s June results reported 19.3 million passengers and a 95pc load factor, so things are back on track.

Reasons to be fearful (un-deux-trois)

Eiffel Tower is the top attraction in Paris

One might expect the five ring Olympic circus to put France’s three competing air traffic control
unions on the starting line for the 100 million flight disruption sprint, but peace has prevailed.
With some difficulty.

France signed an Olympian truce with the air traffic control unions to get it through the Olympics, or at least the largest one, SNCTA to which 41pc of air traffic controllers are affiliated and USAC-CGT (25pc).

Then a third union Unsa (22pc) went on strike, saying they were left out of the deal. They targeted Beauvais, where Ryanair run two third of the flights, in one of the strikes, which was unusual. The situation seems fragile since then. All seems to be holding together but we all have reason to fearful when the flame is extinguished and the French political high jump results are declared.

Big country, small fares

walking the Glacier Skywalk is one of the top things to do in Alberta

Flights to Canada provide another reason to be cheerful this summer. It is one of the few longhaul destinations where the published price has dropped since first published, even for peak dates.

Toronto is one of the few destinations to have four competing airlines out of Dublin. Halifax was added to the destination list in June. Many Canadians count this as a short haul flight. The Canadian ambassador says that he is closer to his childhood home in Dublin than his siblings are on Canada’s Pacific coast.

Spain’s regions join the party

Toledo

A joyous evening with the Castlilla-Leon minister for tourism Patricia Franco, in Dublin to promote her region, was a reminder of the gentle reshaping of Ireland’s tourism to Spain.

Malaga, already one of Dublin’s busiest routes and growing, is a staple of Irish life at this stage, as familiar as a trip to Bray. But we are leading other markets in the search for other playgrounds. Spain’s 16 other regions, seeking to boost tourism are increasingly looking to Ireland to fill their beds and restaurants.

Point to point access, such as new flights to Asturias and ferries to Bilbao, is augmented by the rapid advance of Spain’s high speed network. Our January trips to Spain were up by 23pc and rolling annual up 10pc, leaving Ireland on course for three million visits to Spain in 2024. Toledo, the Armagh of Spain, is the jewel in Castlilla-Leon’s crown and a short metro and bus trip from Madrid.

How hot is the summer?

Lindos, Rhodes

Weather patterns suggest we are in for another hot summer in the Mediterranean, if the two year El Niño experiences of 1982-83, 1997-98 and 2015-16 are to be repeated. Heat and drought in a warm country means greater risk of wildfires, so what have we learned from last year?

Travel agents are the place to go for flexibility, rather than low cost airlines and online wholesales who sell on hotel beds. If they can they will change dates for anxious customers. TUI were the most customer friendly company when it comes to rebooked and re-accommodating customers with date changes.

The strike that is not a strike

collect Avios when you fly Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus pilots held just eight hours of strike action in the hot month of June. Just eight. You would think it was more. Amid the sabre rattling, the work to rule, the substandard service on hired-in carriers, the passengers stranded at a gate when the pilot took off because paper work did not meet requirements, the fear and foreboding spread through the holiday community, the voice that is NOT being heard is that of the consumer.

The solution, and there will be a solution, reached behind closed doors in circumstances that will never be published, could have been reached last February. Passengers are being used again as pawns in the great aviation game of pay for productivity game.

Consumer groups, politicians and a compliant media have been allowing this to happen for years. Legislation, such as Eu261, has made thing worse, incentivising unions to take strike action for which the airline faces penal compensation.

Arise Sir Charges (again).

airline fuel surcharges

Nobody calls them FUEL surcharges anymore, but there are new surcharges lying in wait for passengers. Sustainable aviation fuel, one of five solutions to aviation’s task in reducing emissions (zero by 2050) is complicated and expensive.

Lufthansa has announced that it will impose an additional charge of as much as €72 next year. That would get you two flights to Olbia and back in one of Ryanair’s 48 hours sales. This one is going to get a lot worse for consumers, and no prospect of it getting better.

Eoghan Corry is Ireland’s leading travel commentator and aviation specialist in Ireland, as well as being a historian, author and broadcaster. He has extensively travelled as a travel journalist and has been a speaker and moderator at tourism and aviation conferences including the World Tourism Forum, Tourism Ireland and Thailand Tourism.

 

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