SINCE the Covid pandemic started in early 2020, international travel has been dogged by uncertainty.
EU-wide vaccine certificates, Covid tests and passenger locator forms have dampened consumer demand and now, sanctions over the Ukraine war are increasing the cost of jet fuel and worrying the public. However, that’s only part of the story.
With the bonus of Covid travel restrictions being removed for passengers arriving in the UK from 18 March, industry pundits predict that 2022 will see the travel industry return to normal, or even have a bumper season.
The Olive Press examines how the current situation affects travellers, and how they can safeguard their plans.
Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, recently said the average air fare would increase by 7% because of crude oil prices rising and Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said they would be “materially higher”. For most airlines, fuel makes up 30% to 40% of operating costs.
However, with OPEC members being urged to increase production by the United Arab Emirates, the Brent crude oil price currently stands at around US$98 a barrel, up from about US$78 a barrel at the beginning of 2022 – but down from the peak of US$129 on March 8, which saw combustible prices spiralling at our fuel pumps.
The Olive Press caught up with popular airline, Jet2, which is optimistic. James Pieslak, senior press officer, says: “As the leading airline and tour operator to many destinations across Spain, including the Canaries and Balearics, we have seen strong demand for flights and holidays since travel restrictions started to ease at the start of 2022. This continues to be the case and, with more capacity on sale for summer ‘22 compared to summer ‘19, we continue to look ahead with real confidence.”
He adds: “The Canaries, Balearics and mainland Spain are continuing to perform very well with customers booking across all seasons. All-inclusive deals are looking popular, and it’s clear to see that customers are looking to indulge themselves after missing out for so long.”
“Our advice is to always book early, and this is very much the case this summer.”
Jet2 CEO, Steve Heapy, adds: “With Easter just round the corner and summer fast approaching, the announcement comes at the perfect time.”
Lauren Ayres of package holiday operator, TUI, is also upbeat. She told the Olive Press: “We currently don’t see any impact (of the war) on our operating business, our customers are taking their holidays as planned and there are no operational restrictions. Demand remains very high.”
An ABTA spokesperson said: “After two years of severe restrictions on overseas travel, there is considerable pent-up demand – many people are simply desperate to get away. Spain is by far the most popular overseas holiday destination for Brits and is bound to have a very busy year. The biggest barrier to travel remains testing requirements, but so many countries no longer require these for fully vaccinated travellers. From Friday March 18, the dropping of all requirements on return to the UK makes travel easier and sends out a clear message to customers – get booking now, overseas travel is very much on again.”
Over at Brittany Ferries, the story is the same. Head of communications, Christopher Jones, says: “This (war) hasn’t had any incidence on fares, and we don’t expect it to.”
When booking a ferry between Spain and the UK, or France and the UK, you can pay extra for a flexible booking that safeguards against alterations in your plans by allowing date changes. You can also pay for Brittany Ferries’ Club Voyage membership (£180 for the first year) to obtain discounts of up to 30% on your trip, as well as reductions on the onboard cabins and restaurants.
A frequent traveller told the Olive Press: “Even using the Club Voyage scheme for one journey a year has made it cheaper for me.”
As with flights, it pays to book ahead, otherwise sailings can be full, or you won’t get your choice of cabin. Horror of horrors – you might have to sleep on a reclining seat!
Buy travel insurance
In these tumultuous times, to ensure you don’t miss an expensive trip because of Covid, or other unforeseen factors, take out travel insurance. Staysure and Fit2trip both offer good deals. Alternatively, El Corte Ingles Seguros offers a service where agents will help.
Ensure the policy has the required level of coverage to protect your trip – the “basic” option might not be ideal. Annual insurance costs have increased, so you might be better taking out single trip cover, unless you travel constantly.
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