OPINION

Lobbying for cheaper air fares

Why is it that budget airlines are flying from London to numerous places in Italy while Easyjet appears to be the only company flying to Greece? At the end of the month, I have to fly to London to deal with a family matter. I went to a travel agent I know well. The cheapest quote they could give me was 417 euros. Given that the Corfu-Athens plane leaves at 7.15 a.m., it would have meant a hotel plus ferry costs, so let’s say 460 euros. Using my computer, I found Ryanair flies from Bari in Italy. The cost of the return journey to London is 52 euros, and the overnight ferry to Bari from Igoumenitsa and return is 143 euros (I get a 10 percent reduction on the ferry as I am over 60 years old). A friend who has a house on Corfu tells me Easyjet has tried to get an arrangement to fly there but the travel agents say that there is no demand. With the euro strengthening against the pound, I am sure such a service would attract custom. Of course, budget airlines prefer online booking, so there is nothing in it for travel agents. The budget airlines have provided something people want. The national airlines have to meet the interests of shareholders and the staff unions want their share of the cream. The impact of the budget airlines has had the effect of bringing many airlines to the verge of bankruptcy – Alitalia, among many others. When will the people of Greece get the benefit of cheaper fares and of the growth that budget airlines would bring to tourism? PATRICK HARRIS, Plataria, Thesprotia.