Thursday, April 24, 2008

Budget Airlines Again

Since the last post with the comment on SkyEurope falling out of the sky, I have been keeping a sharp eye on the budget airline news. So many travel writers and travel bloggers, mostly US based are still shouting the praises of "cross the big pond with the cheapest flight possible and then traipse through Europe with budget airlines". What this tells me is that they are not really doing their research thoroughly enough. It reminds me of a recent travel article for Budapest that was in the travel section of a top Arizona newspaper just two months ago. The author was raving about the experiences of the Budapest thermals and spoke so highly of the Racs Thermal. The Racs closed down in 2002. Travel writers should try their absolute best to get it right. If you have not been to a destination in years, skip the topic and write what you do know about from recent trips. Here are some snippets of news from different sites about the troubles of European budget airlines. "Hungarians, Bitter says, are not flying as much as Slovakians or Czechs and most of SkyEurope's Budapest flights were filled exclusively with foreigners going on holiday. He adds that fares from Budapest and Prague to Western European cities are similar, but Prague flights are an hour shorter, making them by far a more profitable venture. He says the Slovakian economy is also stronger, growing at 14% annually compared with only 1% in Hungary. "It's night and day." For the full article see It also is a telling tale why Slovakia is going on the Euro in January 2009 and Hungary will be lucky to get there in 2012. Ryanair one of the oldest and most stable of the no frills is having problems as well. This was part of a longer article at "Ryanair warned earlier this year that its profits for the fiscal year ending March 2009 could fall by as much as 50% due to high oil prices and fears of recession. The carrier has embarked on a cost-cutting programme that will see staff salaries frozen and aircraft grounded this winter to help it cope with its rising fuel bill. "We will sit 20 of our aircraft on the ground this winter because it's cheaper than flying them," says Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley. 'That's wrong and it's a huge issue for us. We've made a virtue in the past of having year-round servicesbut I want to point out the difficulty we'll have this year.'" EasyJet jumps into the ring with the headline EasyJet exec predicts cull of budget airlines. The stark warning of a cull of low-cost airlines came as the British budget airline's shares fell more than 4 percent after another spike higher in oil prices towards $120 a barrel.

"There are currently about 50 low-cost carriers on the European market -- that's absurd," Francois Bacchetta, managing director of EasyJet France, told a news conference.

In a few years' time there will be no more than about three or four of us left in Europe," he said. Posted at

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