Something To Declare: Spain and Ireland; Rochefort; Nepal

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The Independent Travel

Bargain of the week: southern Spain, southern Ireland

Bargain of the week: southern Spain, southern Ireland

The winter "bloodbath" between low-cost airlines, predicted by Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, is under way. The Irish airline and its big rival, easyJet, are squaring up for a fares war which will see absurdly low prices.

The first rule of low-cost aviation is that whenever two no-frills airlines compete on a single route, fares fall to uneconomic levels. The second rule is that easyJet "owns" Spain, while Ryanair "owns" Ireland. Earlier this month, easyJet (0871 750 0100, www.easy-Jet.com) announced new routes from Stansted to Valencia (starting 3 November) and Almeria (11 November). This week, though, Ryanair (0871 246 0000, www.ryanair.com) announced plans to fly from Stansted to Valencia starting the day before easyJet, and to Almeria from 19 January. There are also new flights to Seville (below) (from 25 February) and Porto in Portugal (19 January). In response, easyJet added flights from Gatwick to Almeria and Valencia from 1 March.

On 28 January, easyJet invades Ireland, with daily services from Gatwick to Cork, Knock and Shannon.

When Go - now part of easyJet - started flights to Ireland three years ago, Ryanair's furious riposte was to add flights and cut fares to uneconomic levels.

Destination of the week: Rochefort

At the end of October, dozens of new destinations are to be served from UK airports - but one of them will be linked for six months only. The runway at the French city of La Rochelle is to be resurfaced all winter, from 31 October to 17 April 2005. Flights from Stansted on Ryanair (0871 246 0000, www.ryanair.com) will instead land at St-Agnant airport near Rochefort. This town is steeped in maritime history. It is a gateway to the beautiful - and gastronomically excellent - Charente-Maritime. Rochefort tourist office: 00 33 5 46 99 08 60; www.tourisme.fr/rochefort.

Warning of the week: Nepal

Life in the Himalayan kingdom is getting trickier. In the past month there have been three attacks by Maoist guerrillas. The Maoists have called a bandh (general strike) for the Kathmandu district next Tuesday and Wednesday; previous stoppages have disrupted transport.

The Foreign Office is warning "Attacks have taken place in areas frequented by tourists, both in Kathmandu and on popular trekking routes. You should be aware that tourists have been caught up in some of these attacks."

Non-essential US diplomatic staff are being offered the chance to leave Nepal.

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