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Destinations of the week: airlines launch new routes

For the past couple of months, routes, departures and entire airlines have closed down. But this week has seen signs of confidence returning – and new options for UK travellers in 2002.

The Irish no-frills airline, Ryanair (08701 569 569,, has started selling flights from Bournemouth to Hahn, a former US Air Force base 75 miles west of Frankfurt in Germany. Flights begin on Valentine's Day next year. It might sound unromantic, but Hahn airport stands on a plateau above the lovely Moselle valley. Yesterday, the lowest return fare was £76, but anticipate some short-term special offers.

Ryanair already flies from Stansted and Prestwick to Hahn. Michael O'Leary, the airline's chief executive, said the flights offered savings of at least 85 per cent on fares from Lufthansa and British Airways; look out for a robust response from both on their flights to Frankfurt.

BA is using some of the aircraft and crew removed from US routes to increase the frequency of flights from Gatwick to the Caribbean next February and March. The extra departures are to Grenada via Tobago and St Lucia via Antigua.

Perth in Australia gets a new one-stop link from Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester. Emirates is introducing a non-stop flight from its base in Dubai to the capital of Western Australia in August. New departures are planned from Dubai to Mauritius, Khartoum and Osaka.

Bargain of the week: more cheap seats between London and Belfast

The UK's latest fares war is being fought on the route between the English and Northern Irish capitals.

The independent airline, British European (08705 676 676,, has introduced low fares on its with-frills flights from London City and Gatwick to Belfast City, starting at £25 each way. You can switch flights for a fee of £10 plus any difference in fare.

In response, Go ( has a special offer of £10 one-way. Between Luton and Belfast International, easyJet ( is offering fares of around £27.50 each way. BMI (0870 60 70 555, is the only airline flying from Heathrow to Belfast, and has a return fare of £59 to either of the city's airports. The best chance of landing any of these cheap seats is on midweek departures.

Following the collapse of the Belgian national airline, Sabena, British European has launched routes from Edinburgh, Newcastle and Birmingham to Brussels, with return fares from £79.

Warning of the week: New Year's closure for the Eye

At 7pm on 31 December, the BA London Eye makes its last revolution for a month and a day. Britain's busiest tourist attraction is to shut down for maintenance for the whole of January. It re-opens at 10am on 2 February. Yesterday there were still spaces on the final spin of 2001 and the first rotation of 2002; book on 0870 220 2223.