PACKAGE HOLIDAY SALES SLOW BUT RESIDENTIAL MARKET IS BOOMING

By Humphrey Carter
THE recent slowdown in package holiday sales in the United Kingdom may be a worry for the tour operators, but is not deterring the no frills airline industry from expanding its routes with Palma still the most favourite destination. The residential, holiday home and independent tourist sectors must be thriving because over the next few months four new low cost airlines will join the likes of easyJet, BMI Baby and Air Europa, operating regular flights to Palma from the UK with one moving into the relatively unexploited Minorca market. Air Scotland and Flyglobespan are soon to start flying to Palma, Air Scotland will be operating out of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen while Flyglobespan will be operating out of Glasgow Prestwick. Jet 2 is about to take off from Leeds Bradford to Palma, among other Spanish destinations while Excel will be flying in from three UK airports to Palma and Minorca. But more flight connections will not only benefit people heading for the Balearics. Air Scotland for example wants to promote Scotland as a tourist destination for the Spanish, aiming to carry some 250.000 passengers per year, while Virgin Express will start flying from Brussels to Palma next month. With Volareweb.com, which at the end of March will start operating from eight Italian airports to a number of Spanish destination such as Palma and the Dutch low cost airline Basicair flying between Rotterdam and Palma, there has never been so much choice or options for people living in the Balearics to travel without having to break the bank. However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that war in Iraq will cost the airline industry dear. IATA spokesperson Willian Gaillard said over the weekend that a prolonged war will cost the airlines 9.300 million euros, while a shorter conflict of one to two months will cost the industry 3.700 million euros. But Gaillard was referring to the global industry and he did admit that, in the event of war, while the US will stay at home, destinations such as Spain and Italy will see an increase in demand.

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