Something To Declare: Treviso airport; India via Bahrain; France by ferry; Marrakech airport
Saturday 12 March 2011
Warning of the week: 'Venice' airport to close
Treviso airport in north-east Italy, which Ryanair describes as "Venice", will close for improvement work during the peak summer months of June, July and August. The Irish airline will switch its services from Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds/Bradford and Stansted to the main Venice airport, Marco Polo, for the duration of the closure.
The plan makes access to the Alto-Adige region, north of Treviso, more difficult. But for Venice-bound travellers it provides an opportunity to compare fares to Marco Polo on the three leading short-haul airlines based in Britain.
Travelling out on 1 August for a week, the fare from Stansted on Ryanair is £154 return; from Gatwick, easyJet is charging £159. Remarkably, British Airways – which does not charge for baggage, nor levy a debit-card fee, and which provides free drinks on board – has seats from Gatwick for £133 return on the same dates.
Both departing and arriving BA flights are late evening, and the outbound service has very limited availability. But even at the next fare level, the BA fare is only £13 more, still undercutting its no-frills rivals.
Bargain of the week: India via Bahrain
Gulf Air is seeking to rebuild its business after the recent political unrest on the island. It is undercutting other airlines with cheap connecting flights from Heathrow via Bahrain to Indian cities for barely more than £400 return. Travelling out between now and Easter, flights to Mumbai are widely available for £405 return, with Delhi £20 more expensive.
Destination of the week: France by ferry
After P&O Ferries' Spirit of Britain was introduced on its Dover to Calais route in January, innovations on cross-Channel ferries have continued. LD Lines is building its own big, new ferry in Singapore: the Norman Leader starts sailing between Portsmouth and Le Havre on 28 April. She will operate the overnight service (11pm departure, 8am arrival) heading south, and the 5pm departure (arriving 9.30pm) coming home. An introductory fare of £123.50, including "sleeper seats" on the outbound departure, is available for five-day return tickets for a car and two people.
Meanwhile, Brittany Ferries has brought back Barfleur on the Poole to Cherbourg link. And for travellers to southern Aquitaine and the French Pyrenees, the same company is restoring the Portsmouth to Bilbao link abandoned by P&O last year, with two sailings a week on Cap Finistère from 27 March.
Tip of the week: Marrakech airport
For decades, new arrivals at Morocco's municipal airport have faced endless hassles from taxi drivers, writes Richard O'Neill. But a new bus link operated by the Spanish firm, Alsa City, now runs every half-hour from the airport to all the main tourist locations in the city centre. Even if the bus, number 19, doesn't serve your precise hotel, you are sure to be only a short ride away by petit taxi. The one-way bus fare is 20 dirhams (£1.50) but, if you intend to return within a fortnight, you pay only 10 dirhams extra.
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