On the eve of the busiest departure day for record numbers of British holidaymakers, The Independent can reveal that unprecedented travel deals are available due to a ferocious fares war during the peak month of August.
From Leeds/Bradford to Ibiza, return fares of £40 are available on Ryanair for a wide range of dates in August, such as 1-4 August or 8-17 August. For a round-trip journey of over 2,000 miles, such a fare would normally only be available at times of lowest demand — not the summer peak.
Between Southend and Milan Malpensa, Flybe is offering the same return fare — £40 — for departures on 8 August for a fortnight.
Further afield, Thomson Airways is selling flights to Preveza in western Greece for a week, departing 2 August, for only £69 return from Gatwick.
The same airline has flights from Manchester to Pula in Croatia for £69, travelling out on 1 August for a fortnight.
While most budget airlines would rather fly with a few empty seats rather than cut fares to lower than the cost of a cab to the airport, Ryanair has long had a “yield passive/load factor active” model which means it will sell seats at whatever level is necessary to fill the plane.
At Leeds/Bradford, Ryanair is engaged in a turf war with Jet2, the home airline, which competes on the same route. The Ryanair fare includes Air Passenger Duty of £13 and airport charges; passengers can carry one piece of cabin baggage on board weighing 10kg, and a second, smaller item.
Jet2’s expansion to South East England means that fares from the London area to many Mediterranean destinations are extraordinarily low for August. Between the capital and Menorca, fares of £63 return are available — flying out on Jet2 from Stansted, and back to Gatwick on Monarch. The dates tested include 6-11 August.
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Between Bristol and Treviso in Italy (Ryanair’s version of Venice), a week’s trip leaving on 8 August costs £71; during the peak month for travel, airlines would normally expect to collect at least £250.
To other destinations, fares are even more absurd. Between Stansted and Toulouse, Ryanair is offering return fares of £32 on a range of dates in August. The Irish airline also has a deal from Belfast to Milan for £44 return, though this is specifically out on 5 August and back on 23 August.
Package holidays are also being sold off cheaply, with Thomas Cook offering a week in Rhodes, including flights from Newcastle, transfers and breakfast, for £352 on 2 August.
The Independent that most of the leading British airports will have their busiest day for departure on Friday 21 July.
All air fares researched using Skyscanner, then double-checked direct with airlines, between 8pm and midnight on Wednesday 19 July. Holiday price checked with Thomas Cook.