with Robbie Shaw

After many years of trawling local airport sites to bring us the ever changing possibilities for flying back to the UK, John Fairclough has moved on to pastures new and will be greatly missed.

However, I am delighted to say that we have found ourselves another ‘geek’!
Robbie Shaw lives near Gatwick where he was an Air Traffic Controller and travels regularly to his place in Collioure. His wife describes him as an ‘aviation geek’, just what we need in fact. 🙂
He travels all over the world photographing aircraft, and in the future will be keeping you up to date with flights between the region and UK & Irish airports, and any other airport news that seems relevant. Welcome Robbie.

air

Overall there has been an increase in flights to the region, but mainly to Barcelona’s El Prat Airport and Girona. The latter has seen a surge of flights by Leeds based Jet2, often going head to head with Ryanair, primarily from the North of England and Scotland, but also from Stansted. Unfortunately there are still no flights from Gatwick to airports anywhere between Barcelona and Montpellier, despite an average of 91 flights a week from Gatwick to Barcelona alone.

Many of the Irish and smaller UK airports’ routes to regional French airports do not start until May/June time to coincide with school holidays.

APRIL – JUNE

PERPIGNAN

Sad news is that we again have a winter to look forward to with no direct UK flights. I am afraid that Ryanair do seem to have the blinkers on. Argelès-sur-Mer is one of the biggest camp site resorts in Europe and there is a definite need for a low-cost service to Gatwick. As Ryanair operate Stansted-Perpignan about three times a week (except peak season) I’m sure they could easily fill Gatwick-Perpignan flights two or three times a week.

The airport has been trying hard for a Gatwick service, but Gatwick’s single runway is just so busy that there is no availability of slots at the right times.

The Stobart / Flybe Southend service will not be repeated in 2018. Whilst the airline offered very attractive fares it was inevitable it could not compete with nearby Stansted.

If you are looking at the websites and find the fares to P.O. are very high, look at the rugby fixture list – it might explain a lot. Often changing just a few days can reduce the fare. Also fares are generally cheaper midweek, especially in the summer months – or ridiculously expensive in school mid-term.

As can be seen in the table below, Perpignan comes to life in the spring.

FROM;

NUMBER OF WEEKLY FLIGHTS

AIRLINE

BIRMINGHAM

2

RYANAIR (fm 27/03)

DUBLIN

4

AER LINGUS (fm 15/05)

SOUTHAMPTON

1

FLYBE (fm 26/05)

STANSTED

5

RYANAIR (fm 25/03)


BEZIERS

Like Carcassonne, Ryanair has a free run at this small airport.

FROM;NUMBER OF WEEKLY FLIGHTSAIRLINE
BRISTOL

3

RYANAIR
EDINBURGH

2

RYANAIR
LUTON

3

RYANAIR
MANCHESTER

2

RYANAIR
STANSTED

3

RYANAIR

CARCASSONNE

Ryanair remains the sole operator here, with the Edinburgh service being added this year.

FROM;

NUMBER OF WEEKLY FLIGHTS

AIRLINE

EAST MIDLANDS

2

RYANAIR

EDINBURGH

2

RYANAIR

GLASGOW INT’L

2

RYANAIR

MANCHESTER

2

RYANAIR

STANSTED

7

RYANAIR

CORK

2

RYANAIR (fm 04/06)

DUBLIN

3

RYANAIR (fm 04/06)

MONTPELLIER

This is the airport we use as easyJet has daily flights from Gatwick in the summer, and in fact has increased their service by often going double-daily this year. If only they would move one of those flights to Perpignan! In the winter months some of the flights were operated by 186 seat Airbus A320s instead of the smaller 162 seat Airbus A319s. So overall there is an increase in capacity. They also operate to Montpellier from Luton. The British Airways flight from Heathrow which started last year appears not to be operating this year.

FROM ;

NUMBER OF WEEKLY FLIGHTS

AIRLINE

DUBLIN

2

AER LINGUS (from 04 May)

GATWICK

12-14

EASYJET

LUTON

3

EASYJET (fm 26/06-01/09)

TOULOUSE / BLAGNAC

There tends to be more flights to Toulouse from UK regional airport in the winter due to skiing opportunities, with Andorra not too far away.

FROM;NUMBER OF WEEKLY FLIGHTSAIRLINE
BIRMINGHAM

Winter only

FLYBE
BRISTOL

7

EASYJET
EDINBURGH

2

RYANAIR
GATWICK

21-28

EASYJET
HEATHROW

21

BRITISH AIRWAYS
LUTON

4-6

EASYJET
MANCHESTER

7

FLYBE
STANSTED

14

RYANAIR
DUBLIN

4-6

AER LINGUS

BARCELONA / EL PRAT

So, a huge variety of flights to Barcelona, most of which run all year round, but with seasonal increases. For those unfamiliar, take care on the nightmare Barcelona ring-road, one wrong turn could be very time consuming.

FROM;

NUMBER OF WEEKLY FLIGHTS

AIRLINE

BELFAST

5

EASYJET

BIRMINGHAM

2

RYANAIR

BRISTOL

14

EASYJET

CARDIFF

3

VUELING

EAST MIDLANDS

7

RYANAIR

EDINBURGH

7

NORWEGIAN

GATWICK

14

42

7

28

BRITISH AWYS

EASYJET

NORWEGIAN

VUELING

GLASGOW PRESTWICK

7

RYANAIR

HEATHROW

58

BRITISH AIRWAYS

LIVERPOOL

10

2

EASYJET

RYANAIR

LUTON

20

EASYJET

MANCHESTER

5

3

14

JET2

NORWEGIAN

RYANAIR

NEWCASTLE

4

EASYJET

SOUTHEND

4

EASYJET

STANSTED

28

RYANAIR

CORK

3

AER LINGUS

DUBLIN

14

18

AER LINGUS

RYANAIR

GIRONA

There has been a big increase in flights to Girona. Ryanair’s spat with the airport not paying them enough seems to be over and several routes have been reinstated. It seems as though Leeds based Jet2 have suddenly found the airport, and have introduced a whole raft of flights, though most do not start until early May.

FROM;

NUMBER OF WEEKLY FLIGHTS

AIRLINE

BELFAST

1

2

JET2 (fm 04/05)

RYANAIR

BIRMINGHAM

2

3

JET2 (fm 03/05)

RYANAIR

BOURNEMOUTH

4

RYANAIR

BRISTOL

5

RYANAIR

EAST MIDLANDS

2

2

JET2 (fm 05/05)

RYANAIR

EDINBURGH

2

2

JET2 (fm 04/05)

RYANAIR

GATWICK

2

TUI (fm15/05)

GLASGOW INT’L

2

JET2 (fm 13/05)

GLASGOW PRESTWICK

2

RYANAIR

LEEDS BRADFORD

2

2

JET2 (fm 10/05)

RYANAIR

LIVERPOOL

2

RYANAIR

LUTON

3

RYANAIR

MANCHESTER

2-4

3

JET2

RYANAIR

NEWCASTLE

2

2

JET2 (fm 04/05)

RYANAIR

STANSTED

3

3

JET2 (fm 04/05)

RYANAIR

CORK

2

RYANAIR (fm 04/06)

DUBLIN

2

RYANAIR (fm 02/06)

Please note that these are the average number of flights per week, and will be variable in the shoulder and peak seasons, when you will sometimes see a minimum and maximum number listed. Please do bear in mind airline schedules do fluctuate. At Perpignan last year a French airline decided to cancel planned flights at three weeks notice – after the airport had spent money advertising the said route.

If you think I have missed any, please contact P-O Life on info@anglophone-direct.com.

AIRPORT TRANSPORT (correct early 2017)

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.

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 !

  1. A couple of flights from Cardiff to anywhere in the region any time of year with any airline would be nice! Barcelona/Vueling only option.

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