By John Carney
FERMANAGH holidaymakers can expect to fork out even more cash this summer after Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned flight prices will be higher due to soaring demand for European beach resorts.
Airline boss O’Leary said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that prices for flights would ramp up over the next few months. He expected prices to be lower up to June compared to pre-pandemic levels, but added “based on about 50% of all bookings, we expect prices will be up high single-digit per cent” over the summer.
“It seems to us that there will be higher prices into that peak summer period because there’s so much demand for the beaches of Europe and those price rises are going to continue,” he told the BBC programme.
But Richard Cooper of Carefree Travel in Enniskillen did not believe the higher prices would affect the holiday plans of local travellers.
“May would usually be a quiet month for us, but we are extremely busy. There are an awful lot of people looking to plan holidays for the summer time,” Cooper said. “Any high single-digit per cent rise won’t put anyone off when they haven’t been able to get away over the past few years.
“There will always be high demand for really popular dates in July and August regarding large family groupings. This will always push the prices higher; it always has done. This is not the result of Covid, it’s what naturally happens.”
Mr Cooper also emphasised that some airlines won’t have fully re-installed their routes yet. “Where there would have been three or four flights to Majorca in 2019/20, there’s only two this year, so there’s more demand now,” he said.
Currently the most popular destinations for Fermanagh holidaymakers are Greece and the Canary Islands, Mr Cooper said. For July and August, destinations with shorter flights such as mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Ibiza) will be all the rage as usual.
“In the last six to seven weeks the likes of Turkey, Greece and Croatia have dropped most of their Covid restrictions, which has eased people’s worries. A lot of travellers, who have already been on holiday, have also come back and reassured family and friends that it’s safe to travel,” Cooper said.
Mr O’Leary revealed Ryanair’s lower fares were currently driving an increase in passenger numbers, helping the company’s recovery from the pandemic, and hoped the airline would return to “reasonable profitability” in its current financial year. It carried 97.1 million guests, up from just 27.5m the year before, thanks to the lifting of Covid restrictions.
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