Symi Travel News

Latest Travel News for Visitors to Symi by Andy Ward

Symi Visitor Travel blog

Extra trips with the Proteus

ANES has put on extra trips with the Proteus this week to fill the gap
left by the ANEK boat. See their Facebook page for
details.

More changes for UK flyers

Apart from the good news of the Ryanair flights from Liverpool and Stansted there are more changes for UK independent travellers who want to get to Rhodes on their way to Symi in summer 2011.

BMI-British Midland will withdraw their service between Glasgow and London Heathrow at the end of March. This breaks the best daily link to Rhodes, which used Aegean Airlines for the other two flight sectors, with luggage checked right through. Now Glaswegians who can’t use the direct flights to Rhodes on Wednesdays either have to make their way to another airport overland, or use the British Airways service via Heathrow and Athens. Some other BMI flights from UK regional airports to Heathrow have been reduced in frequency or transferred to smaller aircraft.

The bizarre saga of the Olympic Holidays charter flights to Rhodes continues. At the end of January they replaced Aegean and Astra with Strategic Airlines (an Australian-French outfit). Now this week they’ve moved the Gatwick flights from Travel Service Airlines to Strategic, but given Travel Service a flight from Birmingham instead. Monarch are continuing to fly from Manchester and Gatwick to Rhodes at the times they’d originally agreed with Olympic Holidays, who have now started selling seats on the Monarch flights as well. I really can’t recommend that people booking their own flights separately from accommodation do so through Olympic Holidays this year when you have no way of truly knowing who will operate the flight, and consequently the slot times can’t yet have been approved for the airports at either end or the journey in between, so may change significantly. Once the flights actually start operating it may be possible to change this recommendation.

Viking Hellas (the remains of Viking Airlines who went bust last year) have decided to rename themselves FlyHellas to distance themselves from last years debacle, and from the people who are still owed money. As the same investors are still in control of FlyHellas as were of the whole Viking group, there’s no guarantee that this cosmetic rebranding will make the company any more reliable to travel with than its parent proved to be.

The events in Egypt and Tunisia have caused some package operators to review their summer programmes and cut back on their offering there. This looks like doing somebody some good as Thomas Cook is planning to add a Saturday afternoon flight from Birmingham to Rhodes using an aircraft that would have gone to Sharm-el-Sheik

The individual entries in the summary posts have been updated.
Getting there 2011 – click on the country for flight information: UK and Ireland; Germany; Belgium; Netherlands; ; France ;; Luxembourg ;; Switzerland ;

Ryanair bonanza

Not content with direct flights to Rhodes from Bergamo (sold as Milan), Pisa, and Rome-Ciampino, which started last year and have continued during the winter, Ryanair have announced flights from another 10 airports for summer 2011. These are Bologna; Bremen; Cagliari; Hahn (sold as Frankfurt); Kaunas; Liverpool; London-Stansted; Stockholm-Skavsta; Trapani; and Weeze (sold as Dusseldorf).

They’re nearly all morning flights, getting in between midday and 14:00 and returning almost immediately, so offering good opportunities of catching early evening ferries to Symi and morning ones from Symi. The Ryanair punctuality record is good (though this is helped by a ruthless cancellation policy if flights start running late). You will need travel insurance because if they do cancel you’re pretty much on your own, but I’d recommend travel insurance anyway.

Fares can be really cheap, but they’re in business to make money, so things can get expensive close to date of travel, and watch out for extra charges – they’ll appear as you process the booking on their website, so you do know what you’ll pay before you actually do pay, but you will find the total is closer to their competitors (or even dearer) than it looked when you first started. In particular watch out for baggage fees (they have a lower than usual baggage allowance and charge even for that). Other airlines allow a couple travelling together to pool baggage allowances, within reason, so if the allowance was 15kg per person and one case was 14kg and the other 16kg, that would be acceptable – but Ryanair won’t do this – you must stick to the rules. Hand baggage must be the right size to fit their size gauges, and yes, they do have these at Rhodes too. You’ll pay hold baggage fees if they don’t. Credit/debit card fees are per person per flight, not per booking, so two people making a return trip pay 4 fees. You must print off your boarding pass before you arrive at the airport (though you can do this up to 15 days before travel) or pay a fee (or even be refused travel altogether, with no refund).

Individual country pages have been updated with the extra flights, and more countries will be added soon.
Getting there 2011 – click on the country for flight information: UK and Ireland; Germany; Belgium; Netherlands; ; France ;; Luxemburg ;; Switzerland ;

February Ferries

Will be the same as January ferries – at least up to the 19th, which is as far as ANES will show sailings (though expected to be the same for the whole month),  or for the whole month for Dodekanisos Seaways and ANEK

That’s a daily service from Rhodes to Symi, with two sailings on Thursdays, between the three operators; and daily except Mondays and Saturdays, with two sailings on Thursdays and Fridays, in the opposite direction.

Olympic News

The planned merger between Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines has just been blocked by the EU competition authorities. Precisely what they will do next isn’t clear, both are supposed to be losing money. I suspect at least one will seek to merge with a major European airline such as Lufthansa (Aegean) or Air France/KLM (Olympic) instead.

Ironically there’s more news involving Olympic and Aegean, but this Olympic is Olympic Holidays (no relation at all to the airline). Having initially arranged a set of charter flights from Manchester to Rhodes for this summer with Monarch, when Monarch put the price up because of rising fuel costs they contacted people who had booked and told them the flights would be operated by Sky Express instead. Now in a further change the flights will be operated by the charter part of Aegean Airlines.  The blog post covering flights from Manchester has been updated to reflect this. The good news is that Monarch intend to operate their flights anyway at their own commercial risk, so there is now a better supply flights for this summer.