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Winter low-cost fare war

Winter low-cost fare war

A fierce fares war among no-frills airlines seems inevitable this winter, with announcements of expansions at Birmingham, Coventry and Luton airports.

BMI's offshoot Bmibaby is to start flights from Birmingham, just 40 miles from its main hub at Nottingham East Midlands airport. From January, the airline will base three aircraft at Birmingham, which is already home to MyTravelLite and FlyBE.

Bmibaby has yet to announce routes, but there is certain to be duplication in destinations already served from Nottingham. Belfast, Cork and Edinburgh appear to be likely candidates in the UK and Ireland. A strong case can be made for Nice and Toulouse in France, not least because of the ski options these destinations open up. Routes to Iberian destinations such as Faro, Malaga, Murcia, Alicante and Barcelona will be tempting - though these would compete directly with MyTravelLite. Prague is another possibility, but it is already served 10 times each week from Birmingham by Czech Airlines.

Tony Davis, chief executive of Bmibaby, says he is not worried by existing competition: "We have been competing head to head since day one with Go, easyJet or Ryanair."

Twelve miles away at Coventry airport, a second airline is moving in to share with Thomsonfly. From 1 November, Hapag-Lloyd Express will connect the Warwickshire airport with Cologne. This replaces the Birmingham-Cologne link flown by Duo, which went bust earlier this year.

Ryanair is to step up competition at Luton against its arch-rival easyJet. At present Ryanair has one ageing Boeing 737 based at Luton. This will be replaced by four newer, bigger jets. Over the winter, five routes - to Dinard, Murcia, Vasteras, Esbjerg and Nîmes - will be transferred from Stansted, and four new destinations will be introduced in January: Rome and Treviso in Italy; Girona and Reus in Spain.

None of the new routes is currently served by easyJet. But Girona and Reus are being marketed by Ryanair as "Barcelona", whose main airport is served up to four times a day from Luton by easyJet.

Yobs face Faliraki crackdown

Multi-lingual police have been drafted into the Greek resort of Faliraki to try to avoid another summer of turbulence and tragedy. Last summer, there were scenes of binge drinking and offensive behaviour at the resort on the island of Rhodes, and a British teenager was fatally stabbed.

Since then, Club 18-30 has axed its pub-crawls and First Choice's youth brand, 2wentys, has abandoned the resort. Panos Argyros, director of the Greek National Tourism Organisation in London, is optimistic that the resort will revert to its former family-friendly status. "Bookings have been affected by the incidents of last summer," he says, "but Faliraki is slowly returning to the way it was 10 years ago."

The Foreign Office warns that the sort of behaviour witnessed last year will be punished: "Indecent behaviour, including mooning, is not tolerated and the police have made clear that they will not hesitate to arrest.

"The courts are imposing heavy fines or prison sentences on people behaving indecently."