£1,000 for return flight from Jersey to Gatwick
ISLANDERS planning to fly via Gatwick for any last-minute trips next week could be in for a nasty shock, with some return easyJet flights sky-rocketing in price to around £1,000.
According to the airline’s website, a round-trip with a hold bag leaving at 9am on 10 September, returning the next day at 5.15pm, will cost up to £1,024.
The high prices are being advertised before three days of planned strikes by British Airways pilots on 9, 10 and 27 September which have caused a number of services in and out of the Island to be cancelled and increased demand among its rival carriers.
By comparison, a Qantas flight from Heathrow to Sydney on 10 September, flying back on 27 September – two days on which British Airways strike action has been scheduled – costs £1,073.
And under European aviation rules, BA is obliged to book its customers affected by its pilot strikes onto flights with other carriers, or provide them with a refund.
According to easyJet’s website, one-way flights to Gatwick between 8 and 10 September range in price from £219.20 on the Sunday to £753.49 and £471.70 on the Tuesday.
Carl Walker, chairman of Jersey’s Consumer Council, suggested that the government should consider working with airlines to set a maximum price limit.
‘Most consumers now appreciate that airline and ferry ticket prices are driven by demand – basically the price goes up as more people book, as there are fewer seats available. This means that you could be sitting next to someone on a flight who has paid significantly more than you for a ticket,’ he said.
‘While this approach to travel sales means there are some fantastic bargains available for consumers, it does seem to penalise those that travel at the last minute, which can often include those travelling for family emergencies or to visit sick relatives.
‘To see that a return flight next week to London Gatwick would cost almost £1,000 is nothing short of extortionate and shocking and I feel very sorry for those who need to get the UK at short notice on the affected days.’
Mr Walker added: ‘The prices I have seen today demonstrate just how exposed we are living on an island and while I doubt very much, in this hugely competitive environment for airlines, that we could encourage them to set a price cap or upper limit for their flights, perhaps the government might explore building in some kind of maximum seat price on the routes in and out of the Island when they are entering into their next round of service-level agreement or operating-licence discussions with the airlines that serve the Island.’
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for easyJet defended their pricing structure, adding that it was purely demand-led and that it had not been artificially inflated.
‘Our pricing is demand-led, our fares start low and rise as more seats are booked on a flight,’ she said.
‘Ticket prices around these dates are led by a strong demand for flights around this time. We do not artificially increase prices.
‘We offer value-for-money fares all year round, with 50% of our passengers paying on average less than £50 and an average fare of only £43 over this winter.’
Anyone wishing to get around the strike price hikes can do so by flying to Luton or Southend – where central London is accessible by train in around an hour.
Meanwhile, Blue Islands also offer flights to London City Airport. Trains to and from Southampton Airport into central London take just over one hour.