For those who need to fly across the Atlantic on either business, pleasure or, indeed, both, 2014 is not going to be a cheap date on the face of it. George Osborne’s blinkered refusal to reduce the stratospheric level of Air Passenger Duty (APD), edged gradually upwards by his predecessors in office, is hurting the transatlantic trade massively. Fares have simply never been higher.
However, to coin an unfortunate phrase, there are developments in the wind, both actual and potential, that could make life just a little easier for the transatlantic traveller. Here’s just a few of them.
Obviously inspired by the example of the late Baron Von Richtofen, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is considering extending the reach of his own, personal flying circus all the way across the Atlantic by 2019. O’Leary is proposing flight tickets for around £10, sans taxes and baggage charges, natch.
There is no word yet on whether Ryanair proposes to charge for on board oxygen, or if the passengers will be required to have a whip round to pay for the privilege of a pilot. Renowned as the worst inflight experience since Toothless Matilda first mounted a broomstick, Ryanair is certainly an acquired taste. As, of course, is cannibalism.
More studied, and with genuinely good in flight hospitality, fellow Irish product, Aer Lingus offers a much more convenient alternative to America. Flying from several UK regional airports to hubs in Dublin and Shannon allows passengers to complete customs and immigration in Ireland, before boarding their transatlantic flight.
Thus, you arrive in America as the equivalent of a domestic passenger, neatly sidestepping the lethargic, lumbering hell of those serpentine lines on arrival. And, even better, it allows passengers give the disjointed hell that is Heathrow a neat swerve. Seems to me to be something of a win win situation, and one I will be checking out for myself later this year.
Combining budget flights with brisk, Scandinavian efficiency, Norwegian Air begins summer flights in July from London Gatwick to New York, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles. With fares from just £150 one way- inclusive of taxes- the hugely successful, hitherto largely short haul airline is throwing down a real gauntlet to the established legacy carriers.
In fact, the airline has been offering transatlantic flights from Sweden for some time now. And, while the airline will be a predominantly budget operation, it is safe to say that it will be more inclusive than anything Baron O’Leary might be contemplating putting on offer.
As always, stay tuned.