The impact of tough lates trading on the budget airline sector is translating into cheap prices for the school holidays, according to a leading OTA.
On The Beach says prices are up to 40% cheaper for flying to holiday hotpots like Egypt and Spain and on average 28% down on last year.
Research by the Manchester-based agency has found destinations such as Sharm El Sheikh are up to 40% cheaper while Gran Canaria and Ibiza are 39% and 38% down respectively.
The mainland Spain holiday hubs of Girona, which serves the Costa Brava, and Reus, gateway to the Costa Dorada, are both showing a decrease in flight prices of 34%, says OTB.
Alistair Daly, chief marketing officer at OTB, said: “The decrease in flight prices this year is no doubt welcome news to many holidaymakers.
“It would appear the savings from the decreased flight prices is going to good use and resulting in holidaymakers treating themselves to 10 and 14-night breaks, enjoying their hard earned holiday for longer.”
The research from OTB was endorsed by On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott, who raised eyebrows two weeks ago when he claimed the heat wave caused a 20% slump.
He insisted pricing levels proved he was right and urged the industry to stop talking about how well they are doing and stimulate the market by promoting deals.
Travel agents were furious when journalist Simon Calder told the BBC two weeks ago there were £300 holiday bargains available, accusing him of giving customers “unrealistic expectations”.
Endacott said: “People [who claim there are no cheap deals] are hypocritical. If you want to stick your head in the sand and lie about how well we’re doing, then great.
“All I’m saying is the market has been impacted and there are lots of deals. The truth is, prices have dropped markedly based on low-cost carrier websites because that’s where the impact has been.”
Endacott conceded the large vertically integrated operators were in a relatively comfortable position for the peak season, but he claimed they have lots to sell in September and October.
He pointed to his consumer-facing 118travel.co.uk website, which has a ‘best deals’ price-comparison chart on the homepage for the main European beach destinations.
The lead-in price per person for one week in Spain was £144 last week, down from £194 two weeks earlier and £164 the previous weekend.Endacott said this was mainly due to flight prices coming down, but also because the Spanish are ditching their holidays due to the financial crash, so a lot of hotel rooms are empty.
The state of the market was discussed by members of the editorial advisory board of Travolution at a meeting last week.
Andy Washington, managing director of Expedia UK, said the online giant had seen signs of the short-haul Mediterranean market reviving after an initial dip during the hot spell.
“The market has come right back. Even though we have had hot weather there is still pent-up demand that will keep the market up,” he said.
“One operator I looked at had 1,600 holidays to sell in the next week, another had 1,600 to sell the next day. There is still plenty of availability in the school holidays. Prices are pretty good.”