Something To Declare: Express to Marrakech; Heathrow cut-off; off-season Ireland


Destination of the week: the express to Marrakech

Destination of the week: the express to Marrakech

Air fares from Britain to North Africa have remained stubbornly high compared with prices to southern Spain and Portugal. For example, British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com) currently has a return fare of £65 from Gatwick to Malaga and Faro, yet its cheapest ticket to Fez in Morocco - just a few minutes' extra flying time - is three times more expensive, at £199. But the arrival of the first no-frills flights from the UK to Morocco has stimulated a fall in fares. The state-owned national airline, Royal Air Maroc, has launched a cut-price subsidiary, Atlas Blue ( www.atlas-blue.com), offering reasonably low-cost scheduled services between Gatwick and Marrakech. For travel later this month, fares of €310 (£219) are widely available. In response, GB Airways (bookable through BA) has a lowest fare of £169 on the same route - though if you travel from Heathrow, not Gatwick, the price rises to £250.

The new airline's arrival makes "open-jaw" travel to Morocco more realistic. You could get a cheap one-way flight to Malaga on a range of UK airlines, take a ferry to Tangier, travel overland to Marrakech and fly home for £111 on Atlas Blue.

Warning of the week: Heathrow cut-off

Europe's busiest airport becomes harder to reach from this weekend. BA's main intercontinental hub, Terminal 4, has lost its Tube connection for the next 20 months because of work in diverting the Piccadilly Line to serve the new Terminal 5. Travellers on Kenya Airways, KLM, Qantas and SriLankan Airlines are also hit. The easiest access for travellers using the Underground will be to take a bus from Hatton Cross. Passengers using Heathrow Central station, serving Terminals 1, 2 and 3, should arrive five minutes faster thanks to cutting out the Terminal 4 loop and extra stop.

This weekend - and on several more weekends between now and Easter - the entire airport is cut off from the Tube network because of engineering work. Replacement buses will run from Acton Town. For more information call 020-7222 1234 or visit www.tfl.gov.uk.

Bargain of the week: off-season Ireland

Irish Sea ferry crossings are relatively empty for the next three months, which is why Stena Line (08705 70 70 70; www.stenaline.com) is offering some short-term deals. Two people and a car can cross from Fishguard to Rosslare or Holyhead to Dublin, aboard conventional ferries, for £179 for a five-day return - if you book by next Wednesday, 12 January, and travel by 11 April. The high-speed Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire ferry costs £179 return.

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