high flyers | 

Families face paying up to €600 more for Spanish holiday as flight and hotel costs soar

Term-time breaks increasingly seen as a cheaper bet

Madeira is one of this year’s new destinations with direct flights from Dublin and may offer better value for money. Photo: Guiziou Franck

Paul Hyland

Families are saving hundreds of euro by going abroad during the school term as the cost of holidays soars.

A week in Spain this summer is now costing Irish families up to €600 more, once flights, accommodation and car hire prices are factored in.

Rising inflation across Europe coupled with a surge in demand for foreign holidays as Covid restrictions ease has created a perfect price storm ahead of the main tourist season.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned this week that flight prices could rise by nearly 10pc this summer due to soaring demand for European holidays.

Paul Hackett, the CEO of Irish travel company Click&Go, said flights have increased by €40 to €50 per person at peak times.

An Irish Independent survey of prices gathered from four Irish travel agents reveals it will cost a family of four €2,532 on average for a seven-night package (flights and accommodation) at the four-star Sunset Beach Club apartments complex in Benalmadena, on the Costa del Sol, from August 5 to 12, compared with roughly €2,279 in previous years.

Travel agents said package holidays have risen in price by roughly 10pc due to rising accommodation and air fare costs.

For the same week in August, the cheapest Ryanair flights to Malaga will cost the same family €839.92 in total, while Aer Lingus flights would cost €1,122.84.

If the family choose to book with Sunset Beach Club directly, it will cost them €1,963 for their seven-night stay through Booking.com.

Similarly, an analysis of car-hire prices from five of the leading companies – Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Europcar and Sixt – at Malaga Airport shows the family can expect to pay, on average, €670 (€95 per day) to rent a five-seat, economy class car for seven days.

That is not including the price of fuel, which has also surged in Spain and is now in line with Irish prices.

Tour operators said more and more parents are taking their children out of school before the end of term so they can take their family holiday ahead of the pricier peak season.

Mary Denton, the CEO of Dublin-based Sunway Travel, said families can save up to €100 per person by taking a holiday outside of the peak weeks in July and August.

She said people are being “more savvy” when booking now, and if they wait until the end of August they can make substantial savings.

However, holidaymakers need to book early to avoid disappointment.

“A family of four can still get a four-star, self-catering, seven-night stay with flights and bus transfers included at Sunset Beach Club for €1,699 at the end of August before the kids go back to school,” Ms Denton said.

“I know people are talking about prices going up in airlines and all that, but we’re not seeing it on everything.

“You’ll see it in the Canary Islands and places like that where air fares are high during the summer, but I think for families there are fantastic deals out there if they can get away when they’re not paying the peak prices.”

Eoghan Corry, editor of Air and Travel Magazine, said people seeking to get away will always look to the “bargain end” of the season.

“That’s April, May and then after the schools go back,” he said. “Certainly, July and August are creating that problem that it pushes some families to take the decision to take them out of school, which is not to be recommended, but it’s what people do to save money.”

Mr Corry advised people looking for value for money to look at new routes operating out of Dublin this year, including Alghero (Sardinia), Nimes (France) and Madeira.

Mr Hackett of Click&Go said: “Spain and Portugal, on average we’re seeing price increases of about €40 to €50 return, per person, for the summer.

“When we run our numbers, that’s what it’s gone up by. I think for the first time ever we’re dealing with inflation.

“This is unique in travel because we haven’t had travel in two years, so the pattern is out of kilter.

“To some extent the airlines, in my opinion, are taking the view that as consumers have not travelled for two years, they are going to want to get away and so will pay the price.”

While not everyone needs to hire a car, for those who do, demand is a serious issue and prices have rocketed.

According to UK-based travel guide Which?, car rental prices on mainland Spain increased by 110pc between 2019 and last year and demand is now even greater.

Customers have been warned that there is a serious lack of rental car availability across Europe as many smaller businesses have shut down and most companies are struggling to adequately replenish their stock of vehicles.

This is because companies buying new fleets typically keep them less than a year before selling them on to the second-hand market.

Covid-19 saw entire fleets sitting idle, some companies went bust and others are scrambling to regroup after selling their vehicles.

In a statement, Avis said: “Like the rest of the industry, we are not immune to the increase in fleet and operational costs.

“As a result of these external factors, in some cases, we are having to amend our rates to reflect the rising costs of fleet procurement, minimum wages, fuel and energy costs.

“With customer demand increasing, we recommend all customers book as early as possible so we can guarantee their rental.”

Pat Dawson, the chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), said Irish holidaymakers can still make big savings “on the ground”.

“It’s double or treble the price to eat out in Ireland,” he said. “In Spain, a glass of beer is €1.50, a pint is €2.50. A really good meal costs €25 or €30. You’d pay €60 in Ireland for that meal.

“A nice bottle of wine in a Spanish restaurant is €18 to €20, in Ireland it’s €40. On the ground is where people will save the money.”

On average, a typical three-course meal in Spain costs between €20 and €25 for an adult and €10 and €15 for a child, excluding drinks.

Bank of Ireland’s debit and credit card analysis for April revealed a notable spending increase in popular foreign hot spots of late as holidaymakers looked to get away early.

Card spending in Greece rose by 162pc, with Portugal (106pc), Turkey (100pc), Spain (45pc) and Italy (38pc) all seeing spending increase by Irish consumers last month.

Holiday giant TUI has confirmed it will not be offering last-minute, low-price deals for the summer amid a recovery in customer demand.

Chief executive Fritz Joussen said the company will hold its current pricing, unlike in previous years.

“We aren’t going to suddenly shift to discounting,” he said.

The company said pricing for this summer has increased by 20pc, but bosses stressed this was being driven by longer holidays and more expensive trips, including five-star hotels, as many people travel again for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos