Holidaymakers not scared off by crisis

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The Independent Online

Air travel crisis? What crisis? In spite of security jitters at British airports, the resulting disruption for the travelling public and the current political uncertainty, many holidaymakers are continuing to book.

Air travel crisis? What crisis? In spite of security jitters at British airports, the resulting disruption for the travelling public and the current political uncertainty, many holidaymakers are continuing to book.

The arrival from Venezuela of a live grenade in a passenger's baggage at Gatwick has not dented bookings for Latin American flights. Andre de Mendonca, director of the specialist agency South American Experience, said: "Bookings are very high for this time of year. Latin America is perceived as a safe destination, as it doesn't involve flying through any of the more dangerous parts of the world."

A spokeswoman for Trailfinders, the UK's biggest flight specialist, said: "There's no immediate sign of any downturn in long-haul bookings."

Rumours were circulating about poor sales for traditional summer-sun packages to the Mediterranean. "If you've got kids to worry about and a bigger holiday budget to spend, you're going to wait and see how things develop," said Barbara Kurau of Cosmos.

But destinations to the west – the Canaries and the Caribbean – are selling better than usual."

Alan Cornish of Corona Holidays reports a boom in bookings. He said: "Saddam Hussein is on our Christmas card list." Mr Cornish's company specialises in Spain's Canary Islands, which are heavily booked for the schools' half-term. "The same thing happened in the last Gulf War", said Mr Cornish. "The Canaries are seen as a quiet and safe place to go, and business is going like the clappers."

The notion that popular tourist routes are relatively safe was echoed by another industry insider.

"I have a theory that hijackers don't go for planes that are 90 per cent full, for fear of being overpowered," he said. Most charter flights operate close to capacity, he explained, and: "If you're going to brandish a gun, you want to put a bit of space between yourself and the crowd. So a half-empty aircraft is a much softer target than a full one."

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