Discounts are just the ticket

CHRISTIAN WOLMAR

It's a buyers' market for travellers crossing the Channel with all the companies offering some form of discount and many more likely to be announced over the next few weeks as the operators try to fill up places when the summer peak is over.

For most of the season, P&O and Stena have both been offering 20 per cent discounts for travellers, which is a strong disincentive for people to buy their tickets early since they will miss out. P&O is also offering special fares of pounds 98 return for a car and passengers on its western routes between Portsmouth and Le Havre or Cherbourg, and day returns on its Dover- Calais crossing of pounds 29 per car and pounds 4 per person.

Hoverspeed has a special Apex fare of pounds 199 per car and passengers on its Dover-Calais route, representing a substantial saving on its top fare of pounds 320. Passengers have to specify the time and date of their return sailing. Its Apex fare for Folkestone-Boulogne is pounds 179.

Eurotunnel has a promotion running with the Mail on Sunday offering people fares between pounds 29 and pounds 49 return for travel on trains running during the evening or night. It is also offering people living in Kent special pounds 39 returns for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, either for a day return or an overnight stay. It is also running a series of day-return fares costing from pounds 65 to pounds 99 depending on the day of travel.

Eurotunnel has just ended a promotion offering a pounds 50 voucher useable at Elf petrol stations in France but it may relaunch the scheme soon and it is still giving all travellers a voucher for pounds 40 off their next journey.

All the operators stress that there will be many cheap deals on offer this autumn.

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