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How Michael O'Leary became king of the skies, and our top car rental tips

Viva le Vendée, cruise lines start to relax their Covid rules, and a new shuttle bus for the Limerick Greenway

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Santander - Cantabria's capital

Santander - Cantabria's capital

Santander - Cantabria's capital

Ryanair's trump card

Ryanair just had its busiest ever month. It carried 16.8m passengers this July, up almost a million on its previous best... which was June. For context, that's a 14pc rise on July 2019, when the airline flew 14.9m passengers. Given the strike actions it has dealt with, and the chaos experienced by other airlines - including British Airways, which has temporarily stopped selling short-haul flights from Heathrow - that's extraordinary.

How is Ryanair flying so high after Covid? Unlike some other airlines, it kept aircraft certified and pilots licensed during the pandemic, and it also has a unique trump card - Michael O'Leary. Eoghan Corry has a great piece on "the Guardiola of Gorteen", who he points out, has grown the airline after two previous crises. We should expect nothing less this time.

Second cities are first-rate

Speaking of Ryanair flights, that's what I took for our summer holiday this year, poring over the route map to choose a lesser-visited city break. I settled on Santander, less than a two-hour flight away, and way off the tourist radar. The Cantabrian capital is on the north coast, so not as sun-sure as Spain's most popular summer hubs, but we found it cheap (I never paid more than €2 for a glass of wine), with decent shopping, great food, and a spread of urban beaches that beats even San Sebastian. We should put "second cities" first more often.

Deals of the week

This weekend, Nicola Brady had a round-up of late deals for those seeking to take off in August - these are always subject to change and availability, but make a good starting point for anyone feeling the fear ahead of September. Another good site for last-minute travel is the ITAA's late deals page, which is currently listing flights to Croatia from €299pp in August, and a four-star package to Salou from €579pp. Finally, here at home, Cavan's tourism website has an array of late deals here, and Knockranny House Hotel & Spa in Westport has a two night special including B&B, lunch and an art class by Cheryl Cobern-Brown from €290pp on September 7 & 8. It reminded me of an earlier piece I wrote on hobby holidays.

As always, feel free to forward this newsletter to family and friends, or encourage travel fans to sign up here!

Safe travels, Pól

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