Second-home owners threaten to sell up as airline pulls Gatwick-Granada route – Exclusive by Jo Chipchase
USERS of Monarch’s Gatwick-Granada route have been angered at the low-cost airline’s decision to cancel the service.
From November 4, visitors to Granada will have to face a four-hour round commute as Málaga becomes the airline’s sole south of Spain destination from Gatwick.
Many second home owners in the area cannot understand the decision, claiming flights between the two airports were always full.
Some even are threatening to sell up and leave Granada with others promising a total boycott of Monarch.
Amanda Mercer, who bought a three-bedroom townhouse in the Realejo area of Granada earlier this year, told the Olive Press she is now considering selling up.
“I deliberately chose Granada because of the flights between the city and Gatwick. I return to the UK twice a month due to work commitments. I am expecting a baby early next year and do not want to travel to Málaga airport every time I want to fly home.
“With Monarch pulling out of this route, it will make it difficult for me to switch countries. It is tempting to abandon my Spanish house as a result of this bad news.”
Glynis Whittle, who owns property near Alcala la Real, believes the decision will have an adverse effect on the whole area.
“The area to the north of Granada was on the up. Many foreigners were buying property and bringing wealth to the area. Now, I think many will think again before wanting to come here.
“This decision is so short-sighted and has upset many of my friends who live here. Some have told me they are thinking about selling their property,” she said.
The Conservative councillor for Warlingham, Surrey, added she is even considering a boycott of the low-cost airline.
“I was a regular user of this service, flying to Granada about once or twice a month and it was always busy. When I heard the flight was to be cancelled, I complained to the company and told them I would fly British Airways to Málaga from now on.”
When Monarch first took off from London Gatwick for Granada in May 2005, the airline touted the Spanish destination as a “city of culture.”
Within two years, Monarch had stepped up its Granada flights to five a week in response to a 30 per cent rise in passengers going through Gatwick.
The airline claims 62,000 passengers used its Gatwick-Granada route between September 2006-2007.
A spokesman at Granada airport said that flyers between the two airports accounted for 5 per cent of its passenger throughput in 2006. And the Olive Press can reveal that Monarch representatives had met with regional government officials in Granada to express their delight at passenger numbers flying in to the airport from Gatwick – just days before the service was cancelled.
However, a Monarch spokesman told the Olive Press that the route was not “cost effective.”
“Passenger demand on the Granada route has not met expectations and the aircraft [Airbus 320] used to operate these services will accommodate further route developments from Gatwick, which will be announced shortly. Passengers booked to travel after November 4 will be offered alternative flights or a full refund.”
“Low-cost airlines are fickle,” says Lee Dribben, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association. “They can pull out of routes with only a few weeks’ warning, leaving second home owners and tourists in the lurch.”