There has been much debate from locals and travellers alike about low cost airlines and the Azores especially with the arrival of Easyjet and Ryan Air. Previously, the only way to get there from the UK was on the Azorean airline SATA, direct from Gatwick in the summer and daily with TAP Air Portugal via Lisbon.
It’s all very well flying to the Azores for £80 return but who does this actually benefit? Taxes alone are approximately £120 per person, so if you’re not paying them, who is?
So what’s the impact of low cost airlines and the Azores? Flying this cheaply means that your flights are being subsidised and that can only come from the tax payers of the Azores and Portugal. And then when you buy a Ryan Air flight, you might then buy a hotel room via their accommodation partner Booking.com who now account for around 50% of all hotel sales in Europe and are stifling competition and putting a downward pressure on prices because of their growing dominance. Driving hotel prices down can only impact on those that are employed by the hotels. At the end of the day, it will become a race to the bottom.
Do we really want to be part of that race?
We all know that if something is too cheap, somebody is not being paid properly.
This has become more of a philosophical issue that reaches far beyond just the travel industry.
The Amazons and Googles of this world have become such an integral part of our lives, but maybe it’s time to ask ourselves where we spend our money and who is actually benefitting from it.
Simon Calder has been on Radio 4 discussing the impact of the low cost airlines and the Azores. Go to 22:28 on the programme ‘From our correspondent’ aired last Saturday on this link http://bbc.in/1KGx4m1
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