Something to Declare: The Column That Saves You Money

Bargain of the week

A 'new' airline, and a new, fast, cheap route to Australia

Forget Air Lanka: as from this month, the national carrier for the island formerly known as Ceylon has been renamed SriLankan Airlines. The change follows the acquisition of a large slice of the company by the Dubai-based airline Emirates.

The new airline is emulating Emirates with a programme of low-cost, high- speed flights to Australia. A four-times-a-week non-stop service to Sydney is scheduled to begin on 12 November. Through discount agents there are some excellent introductory fares: about pounds 600 return for November. For those who have not yet booked a millennium flight to Australia, there is plenty of availability at around the pounds 1,200 mark, even at the height of the Christmas/ New Year season.

Currency of the week

The Spanish peseta

Demand can scarcely have been stronger for the Spanish currency than this month. Travelex reports that it sold more than twice as many pesetas last week as it did a year in the same period a year ago, while Lunn Poly said 42 per cent of package holidays sold this summer are to Spain.

Perhaps the reason we are converging on the Costas is that Spanish banknotes are thinly disguised tourism advertisements. The 1,000-peseta note (worth pounds 4, and enough to buy you a set meal in most Spanish cities and resorts) promotes the Canary Islands. A pair of happy holiday-makers are shown descending the lunar slopes of Mount Teide, while directly below them is a map of the archipelago, showing that there is much more to the Canaries than Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

Some travellers still bemoan the cessation of the 100-peseta note, which portrayed an exquisite courtyard at the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Perhaps it will make a brief reappearance before the peseta is subsumed into the euro. What more do you want from a currency than a tempting picture and a map to help you get around? Perhaps an even better rate of exchange than the present 241 pesetas to the pound.

Warning of the week

Overland life ends at 40

That the average age of the population is increasing is beyond dispute.

Many travel companies are targeting older travellers. But the south-London- based adventure operator Exodus has explicitly banned over-40s from its Africa Overland tours. "Overland expeditions last many weeks or months and conditions can be strenuous and primitive," says the new Overland Expeditions brochure. Oldies hoping to visit Asia or South America will have to look elsewhere once they have hit 40. The young (and that means properly youthful, not just "young at heart") can call Exodus on 0181- 673 0859.

Destination of the week


If you search through the Official Airline Guide between Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Dundo (Angola), you will find a new arrival: Dundee, whence Captain Scott sailed for the Antarctic. The saying "I am just going outside; I may be some time" could acquire currency with the new four-times-a-day flight to and from London City Airport. Suckling Airways (0870 606 0707) has instituted the 80-minute route using Dornier aircraft. The airline has launched a price blitz with a lowest return fare of pounds 79, healthily competitive with its rivals at Aberdeen and Edinburgh. London City prides itself on being the capital's closest-in airport, but its six-mile distance from the capital is a marathon compared with the OAG's details of Dundee. The airport is described as being just one mile and two minutes from the city centre.