|New England - budget flights planned from Edinburgh|
It looks like being a very good year for cheap flights. Not only are low cost carriers continuing to add new destinations but also statistics from the Association of European Airlines show the number of seats available this summer is up by 5.5%. That figure relates to all services within Europe and further afield – not just those from the UK – but it’s a fair indication of airlines’ recovering confidence. New routes announced since my last round up include a further expansion of services from the UK to the US via Reykjavik, by Icelandic budget carrier WOW. Its latest move is to launch connecting flights from Edinburgh to Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Montreal. They start on July 13. On April 24 Iberia Express will start operating from Heathrow to Asturias Airport in Northern Spain. The airport is close to Oviedo and is a great gateway to so called Green Spain – notably the Picos de Europa mountains, whose excellent walking routes include the dramatic Cares Gorge. Regional airline Flybe is to connect Southampton with Lyon. It will operate a daily service on the route from May 23 – October 29. It will also launch summer flights from Birmingham to Limoges, Nantes and Rennes. At the end of March low cost central and European airline Wizz will also start a new service from Birmingham, flying twice a week to the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. British Airways will launch new routes to Mahon, Palermo, Biarritz Chania and Kalamata from Heathrow, Bergerac from London City and Ibiza, Malaga and Palma from Stansted as well as increasing the number of services it operates to sunshine destinations including Nice and the Canaries. The AEA stats show an increase of 5.1% in the total number of seats available on flights within Europe with 200 new routes planned. Many cut out the need to use major airports. The only fly in this ointment is the reduction in capacity to Tunisia and Sharm el Sheikh following recent terrorist attacks. Major tour operators including Thomson and Thomas Cook have cancelled flights to the former. And in the absence of any change in the Government’s advice not to fly to the latter, easyJet has axed almost all its summer flights the latter. If the advice is softened it is ready to operate to Sharm el Sheikh from Stansted, however.