with John Fairclough

The events of the past few months, allied to the deep fall in the value of Sterling, means that everyone is looking to extract the best possible value from their travel budget. In fairness to the airlines, they are doing their bit by largely keeping most of the existing flights available, introducing new aircraft onto routes, and taking advantage of the continuing low fuel price by offering keener than ever fares.

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The owners of PERPIGNAN airport have been busy trying to attract new routes from there, and it’s borne some fruit by the introduction of a FlyBe service twice a week to Southend. Whilst any new route is good news, I have to say that Southend’s proximity to its giant Essex cousin Stansted, does mean that there is a risk of overcapacity to/from that region. Meanwhile, Ryanair has begun to look at the airport afresh and have just announced the start of a year-round link to Marrakech. Perpignan Mairie, and Tourist Board are now working with the airport in search of new routes to the North and West of Birmingham, notably Manchester, Bristol and Scotland, but to date, somewhat surprisingly, there has been no success in that venture. Also high on their list is the need for a winter link to the UK.

STANSTED…..5x pw Ryanair

SOUTHEND…..2x pw FlyBe

SOUTHAMPTON…..2x pw FlyBe

BIRMINGHAM…..2x pw Ryanair

DUBLIN…..2x pw Aer Lingus

The people at CARCASSONNE airport have also been in the market for new capacity, and indeed there may be some good news soon on that front, but sadly not in time for this summer.

STANSTED…..7x pw

EAST MIDS…..3x pw

MANCHESTER…..2x pw

GLASGOW INT…..2x pw

DUBLIN…..3x pw

CORK….2x pw All Ryanair

Rumours about the future of BEZIERS airport continue, but offers much the same choice as previous years, with also the introduction of a link to Stansted.

LUTON…..3x pw

STANSTED…..3x pw

EDINBURGH…..2x pw

BRISTOL…..3x pw

MANCHESTER…..2x pw All Ryanair

Also, MONTPELLIER‘S UK/Ireland routes remain as before.

HEATHROW…..2x pw BA

GATWICK…..12x pw EasyJet

LUTON…..2x pw EasyJet

DUBLIN…..2x pw Aer Lingus

Fast growth continues at the region’s biggest hub TOULOUSE.

HEATHROW…..20x pw BA

GATWICK…..18x pw EasyJet

LUTON…..7x pw EasyJet

STANSTED…..21x pw Ryanair

BRISTOL…..6x pw EasyJet

BIRMINGHAM…..7x pw FlyBe

MANCHESTER….. 7x pw FlyBe

2x pw Jet2

DUBLIN …..5x pw Aer Lingus

Moving across the border, it’s great to see some real growth back on the agenda at GIRONA. Ryanair seem to have rediscovered their appetite for the Costa Brava facility, and Jet2 have increased their presence too. It remains to be seen if this new enthusiasm continues into the winter!

BELFAST INT…..2x pw Ryanair

2x pw Jet 2

BIRMINGHAM…..3x pw Ryanair

2x pw Jet2

2x pw Thomson

BOURNEMOUTH…..4x pw Ryanair

BRISTOL…..5x pw Ryanair

EAST MIDS……2x pw Ryanair

2x pw Jet2

EDINBURGH……2x pw Ryanair

2x pw Jet 2

GLAS PIK……2x pw Ryanair

GLAS INT……2x pw Jet2

LEEDS BRAD……2x pw Ryanair

2X pw Jet 2

LIVERPOOL…..2x pw Ryanair

MANCHESTER…..3x pw Ryanair

4x pw Jet2

2x pw Thomson

LUTON……3x pw Ryanair

STANSTED…..5x pw Ryanair

2x pw Jet2

GATWICK…..2x pw Thomson

NEWCASTLE…..2x pw Ryanair

3x pw Jet2

DUBLIN…..2x pw Ryanair

CORK……2x pw Ryanair

KNOCK……2x pw Ryanair

But, as ever, if schedule flexibility and large choice of routes is what you are after, BARCELONA offers unbeatable pickings. Notable is the further expansion by budget carrier Norwegian, who are now offering through fares to a whole host of destinations including the USA, in some cases direct but also via London Gatwick or various Scandinavian cities.

HEATHROW…..56x pw BA

GATWICK…..10x pw BA

40x pw Vueling

7x pw Norwegian

40x pw EasyJet

5x pw Monarch

STANSTED…..32x pw Ryanair

LUTON…..21x pw EasyJet

14x pw Vueling

SOUTHEND…..4x pw EasyJet

BIRMINGHAM…..7x pw Ryanair

5x pw Monarch

2x pw Norwegian

7x pw Vueling

E MIDS…..7x pw Ryanair

BRISTOL…..12x pw EasyJet

CARDIFF……4x pw Vueling

MANCHESTER…..4x pw Jet2

14 x pw Ryanair

7x pw Monarch

3x pw Norwegian

7x pw Vueling

LEEDS BRAD…..4x pw Jet2

3x pw Monarch

LIVERPOOL…..10X pw Ryanair

10x pw EasyJet

NEWCASTLE…..6x pw EasyJet

GLAS PIK……7x pw Ryanair

GLAS INT……3x pw Jet2

EDINBURGH…..7x pw Ryanair

2x pw Norwegian

5x pw Vueling

BELFAST INT…..5x pw EasyJet

DUBLIN……18x pw Ryanair

14x pw Aer Lingus

7x pw Vueling

3x pw Norwegian

CORK…..4x pw Aer Lingus

Please note that all the above schedules are good for the mid-season. Frequencies may differ in both the July/Aug high season. The usual plea: if anyone comes across any new routes not covered here, please let us know, here at PO Life.

AIRPORT TRANSPORT 

PERPIGNAN

www.aeroport-perpignan.com

Bus/Train ……. The airport bus from Perpignan railway station takes about 20 mins and runs regularly from app 06.30 to 19.30 Mon to Sat, with a much reduced service on Suns and Holidays.

Taxi..…..3 taxi firms have the right to use the forecourt at Perpignan airport. Prices average about 2€50 per km, so fares for single trips to coastal resorts and the Alberes/Vallespir can be eye-watering !

Car..…… PGF is north of the city near Rivesaltes. Since the recent modernisation, parking supply is ample and costs 40€ per week.

CARCASSONNE

www.aeroport-carcassonne.com

Bus/Train.….you can travel to Carcassonne railway station from almost any station in P-O, but must usually change at Narbonne. From Carcassonne, there is a shuttle bus that individually connects with each flight departure and arrival. Single fare 5€.

Car.……The airport is right by jcn 23 of the A61 autoroute. There are 3 car parks: short, medium and long stay, and a week in the latter costs 40€.

BEZIERS

www.beziers-aeroport.fr

Bus/Train…….All trains from PO stations to Montpellier and beyond stop at Beziers. From there, there is a shuttle bus that individually connects with each departing and arriving flight. Single fare 1€60.

Car. …..the airport is close to jcn 35 of the A9 autoroute. There is ample parking right next to the terminal and costs 40€ per week.

GIRONA

www.aena.es/en/girona-costa-brava-airport

Bus/train ……… local company, Perpicat offers a twice -daily minibus service to Girona airport from the P-O coastal resorts, Perpignan and Le Boulou direct . Advance booking essential on www.perpicat.com . Fares 25€ single.

perpicat
Spanish coach firm Sagales run an hourly airport shuttle service to/from Girona railway station.

Car.…….The airport is right by jcn 8 of the AP7 autopista. Several car parking companies exist both on and off the airport, and the official on-airport car park do regular promotions. For example, at the time of writing, a prebooked stay of 7 to 20 days costs a flat 42€.

BARCELONA

www.aena.es/en/barcelona-airport

Train……. The new Barcelona Metro line L9 now serves both Terminal 1 and 2 but only from stations south of the city so is of limited use if coming from P-O . The suburban train R2 Nord runs from Sants station in the city every half hour, but serves only T2 . As regards accessing Barcelona by rail from P-O, there are 4 trains to/from Perpignan daily direct to Sants station, but unfortunately the earliest of these arrives Sants at 12.38 and the latest departs Sants at 16.45. A better bet is Figueres Vilafant (AVE) station which offers a virtually hourly service to Sants from 06.30 to 21.00 daily.

Bus….. The Aerobus runs from the Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona city centre all day every 5 minutes to Terminal 1 and every 10 mins to Terminal 2. Perpicat (see Girona listings) run one morning service direct to Barcelona airport at a single fare of 50€ . There is a free green shuttle bus between terminals.

Car.…… Barcelona airport is on the south of the city just off the C31 autovia. I find that, generally, easiest access is via the AP7 toll road, continuing round the city onto the A2 autovia as far as the C31. Reckon on 2h15 mins from Le Boulou. Once there, parking options are vast. As a rule of thumb, the nearer the airport terminal, the more you’ll pay, but even at popular times you should need to pay no more than 8€ per day. I recommend looking at the official airport site, as there are often deals and promotions. For example at the time of writing prebooked up to 20 day stays in the main T1 multi storey just 3 minutes walk from the terminal were only 75€ ! Another option, particularly if you are catching an early flight is using one of the 4 local hotels that offer free shuttle buses direct to the terminals. You can leave your car free by the hotel, and usually rooms are available booking in advance for about 70€ . Try www.booking.com for details .

As I’ve stressed in this article, pre-booking tends to save you money, so a little pre-planning and flexibility usually pays dividends. But console yourself with the thought that, generally, transport and parking costs are a lot cheaper here than in the UK, where I’ve regularly paid more for my journey from East Anglia to Stansted than for the air ticket from Stansted to Perpignan !

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