Thursday 23 March 2017

Football frenzy sends flight prices sky-high

Ryanair hikes cost of ticket from €25 to almost €250

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

RYANAIR hiked flight prices to Tallinn to 10 times their previous level within minutes of Ireland being drawn to play Estonia in the Euro 2012 playoffs yesterday.

Last week the airline was charging €25 for a one-way ticket to the Estonian capital on November 10 -- but that soared to €247 shortly after the draw.

A flight home the day after the match also jumped from €32 last week to €172.

That brought the price of a return ticket on the same flights up from €57 to €419 -- a whopping 600pc markup on what you would have paid last week.

After being "swamped with calls from Ireland fans" looking for extra flights, Ryanair then put on an extra plane out on the day of the match November 11 and home the next day, but the return fare for this started at €327 and quickly rose to €387.

Fine Gael TD John O'Mahony called on Ryanair to stop exploiting soccer fans, noting that a return flight had been available for just over €70 yesterday morning.

Exploiting

"Not for the first time, Ryanair is penalising Irish soccer supporters by increasing the cost of flights, in this case to Estonia for next month's European Championships."

"I understand that Ryanair is running a commercial enterprise, but it seems desperately unfair," he said.

Ryanair denied they were exploiting fans with these price hikes.

"The lowest fares were quickly snapped up and the price increased as availability declined, as is standard practice," the airline said in a statement. "Hundreds of soccer fans have already booked today, which shows that they found the fares to be great value. Due to this extraordinary demand, Ryanair has already added an additional return flight to accommodate travelling fans."

Abbey Travel offered a package yesterday including a return charter flight, airport transfer, two nights' B&B in a four-star hotel and a match ticket for €589.

They said demand had "gone crazy" with 65 places snapped up within an hour of it going on sale and they would look at putting together a second charter if they could obtain more match tickets. Aer Lingus does not fly to Estonia, meaning fans have limited options for making it over independently for the first leg of the playoff. A return flight to Helsinki with flysas.com would cost around €300 but this would require changing planes in Copenhagen and a two-and-a-half hour ferry trip from the Finnish capital to Tallinn, costing €61.

Ryanair does operate flights to Riga in neighbouring Lithuania, but limited flight times and a five-hour bus journey to Tallinn mean fans would have to travel on November 9 and return on November 13 at a cost of €280.

Meanwhile, travelling fans won't even have to change currency. Estonia joined the euro at the start of this year, the culmination of efforts to modernise its economy since joining the EU and NATO in 2004.

Irish Independent

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