The cost of flying to Europe will plummet this summer as airlines use cut-price fares to woo back travellers, exclusive research for Telegraph Travel has shown.
Analysis of the price of return flights from London airports to seven key holiday hotspots, including Tenerife, Ibiza and Majorca, has revealed that peak season bargains for July and August are also set to remain into September.
All fares checked, with carriers including Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air, show double-digit percentage decreases against the two-year average, with the majority slashed by two thirds.
A spot-check of flights to Tenerife in the first week of July found economy seats from £65 return, down from an average cost of £246, a fall of 74 per cent. Services to Malaga were down 62 per cent, Faro, 68 per cent, and Palma, Majorca, 67 per cent.
In August, the same routes offered large discounts: up to 72 per cent for Ibiza, 68 per cent for Tenerife and 56 per cent for Palma. All flights are based on flexible booking terms.
The summer plans of thousands of British holidaymakers remain up in the air as the Government pushes ahead with its plans to quarantine all international arrivals from next week. It has said it wants “air bridge” agreements in place by the end of June.
A number of nations, including Greece and Portugal, have said they are keen for such arrangements. But even if air travel is not resumed until August, Skyscanner’s research shows bargains will still be available.
Jon Thorne, from Skyscanner, said travellers should double-check their booking is flexible as long as the situation is uncertain. “We are seeing some attractive pricing from airlines who are keen to encourage travel once it is safe to do so,” he said. “Our main advice at this time is to look for flights which are covered by a flexible fare policy.
“It is worth noting that all airlines have different policies. Clicking the ‘flexible ticket’ icon [on Skyscanner] takes you to the airline policy where you can read them in full, and make sure that should your flight be cancelled, you won’t be out of pocket.”
Discounts available in September are smaller than those in July but still considerable. For example, return flights to Ibiza from the UK are 67 per cent down on the average, at £56 return. Fares to Palma are down 55 per cent, £55 return, and 54 per cent to Malaga, £56 return.
Skyscanner said this week that it has seen search traffic correlate with easing lockdown restrictions. The number of people looking for flights to France was up a third compared to the previous week as the country lifted restrictions on cafes, bars and restaurants.
Travel Supermarket has also reported increases in search traffic for Spain and Greece, which have both stated they want the return of international tourism, in recent weeks.
Emma Coulthurst, a spokesperson for the holiday comparison website, said: “There are more people searching for a holiday now for this summer than there were at the beginning of May. Talk of air bridges and countries opening up to tourism appears to be getting people searching and comparing holiday prices.”
“Holiday prices have also been creeping down in the last fortnight and there are some good prices on offer. However, the reality is that we don’t yet know when Britons will be able to travel again.”
This week, travel experts warned that the indefinite travel ban imposed by the Foreign Office represents a larger challenge to summer holidays than the quarantine plans.
John Bevan, the chief executive of dnata Travel Group, a group of UK-based travel brands, has written to the Government asking for more detail on the Foreing Office ban.
“The guidance effectively delegitimises overseas travel and, more than the 14-day quarantine, undermines any real hope that demand can start to return,” he said.
“Our customers tell us that while they are ready and willing to book and travel from this summer, they are nervous to do so while this FCO advice remains in place out of fear of being stranded in the event of a resurgence in the virus. Customer confidence is being undermined, irrespective of whether it is proportionate for a particular destination.”