Deals Of The Week: Fly now while seats last; room at the Innsbruck; Basel - faulty?; Midland Scottish
Wednesday 07 January 2004
FLY NOW WHILE SEATS LAST
The final flight on Liverpool's link with Charleroi in Belgium will take off on 14 January. Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com) will also ditch flights from Stansted to Maastricht, Ostend, Clermont-Ferrand and Reims the same day. You can expect to find thousands of seats on these routes at genuinely giveaway prices over the next week. Some dates for the weekend are heavily sold, but sample flights for other dates reveal a return fare of just £37 between Liverpool and Charleroi. From Stansted, fares are even lower: £32 return to Clermont-Ferrand, £33 to Maastricht and only £24 to Reims or Ostend - exactly the same as the newly increased fare on the Stansted Express linking the airport with Liverpool Street station in London.
ROOM AT THE INNSBRUCK
After a gap of six years, this Austrian city is once again connected to the UK by a scheduled air service. Flights from Gatwick with Austrian Airlines (0845 601 0948; www.austrianairlines.co.uk) are available at under £200 for a good range of dates, including Saturdays, over the next few months. The catch is that the price applies only on the airline's infuriating website.
BASEL - FAULTY?
The Swiss city of Basel remains a no-frills-free zone, despite rumours about imminent announcements. Swiss is the only airline serving the city from the UK, so fares are high: £108 return from Heathrow, with strictly limited availability (0845 601 0956; www.swiss.com). One alternative is to take a Eurostar train. Basel is counted as a destination in eastern France for the purposes of fare calculation, which makes it a bargain at £95 return; first class is £80 more, and includes free meals and drinks to and from Paris. You must change stations between Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est, but they are just a 10-minute stroll or one stop on the Paris Metro apart.
Direct airport-to-airport competition between no-frills airlines is rare, because it usually drags fares down to uneconomic levels. But it still exists on the hour-long hop between East Midlands airport and Edinburgh. Bmibaby (0870 264 2229; www.bmibaby.com) and easyJet (0871 750 0100; www.easyJet.com) have plenty of availability at £26-£31 return flight, which compares well with the lowest rail fare; between Edinburgh and Derby: £28 return.
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