British Airways offers £1 flights to Europe under loyalty scheme as airlines fight decline in demand

Charles Hymas
·4-min read

British Airways has slashed the price of return flights to destinations in Europe to £1 under its loyalty scheme as airlines seek to rescue Summer holidays.  

The airline, Britain’s biggest, has offered the deals to its executive club members of which there are an estimated 10 million worldwide.  

They include popular destinations like Nice, where the slump in demand from the Covid-19 pandemic has led to nearly all flights to the French resort have availability through August.  

British Airways has offered 100,000 “reward” seats at reduced rates across its short haul network, with a number priced at only £1 and up to 18,000 loyalty or “Avios” points. Vienna, Amsterdam and Nice have the most availability.  

Ryanair and Easyjet have also cut prices - with some one-way flights available for under £10 - as the airlines fight to revive the holiday market after seeing flights cut by as much as 99 per cent during the pandemic and subsequent introduction of the UK’s 14-day quarantine.  

With all but a handful of services grounded at the peak of the pandemic in Europe, BA was losing £20m-a-day. The airline proposed to make up to 1,255 pilots redundant as part of 12,000 cuts across the business.  

Ryanair announced in May plans to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth in response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has grounded flights.  

asyJet has said it will cut up to 30 per cent of its workforce - about 4,500 jobs - as it struggles with a collapse in air travel caused by the virus pandemic.  

With the prospects of a recovery in passenger traffic hit by the Government re-imposing quarantine on Spain at the weekend, BA sent out its offer executive club members on Monday.  

In addition to the £1 flights offer, members could also make savings from as little as 1,000 Avios or loyalty points for £10 off any flight.   

“With over 100,000 reward seats available across our short haul network, executive club members can pay in Avios and a flat fee in cash while we cover the taxes, fees and carrier charges,” said a spokeswoman, who said similar offers had been made previously.  

Ryanair has cut its prices on one-way flights with London Southend - Bilbao, Spain available at £9.99 for August 27, London Stansted - Pisa, Italy £9.99 on August 19, and London Stansted - Valencia Italy, at £9.99  on August 22.  

London Stansted - Biarritz France could be picked up for £14.99 on August 25, London Luton - Nimes, France for £19.02  on August 27, London Luton - Athens, Greece for £14.99 on  August 18 and London Luton -  Bologna, Italy - £19.99 on August 17 and London Luton - Alicante, Spain  at £15.00 on August 19.  

Easyjet is offering London Gatwick - Alicante, Spain at £35.99  on August 10, London Gatwick - Barcelona, Spain at £28.99 on August 18, London Gatwick - Madrid, Spain at £26.99 on August 17, London Gatwick - Bordeaux, France at £40.99 August 16, London Gatwick - Crete, Greece at £30.99 on August 23 and London Gatwick - Faro, Portugal - at £26.99, on August 11.

 David Skillicorn, commercial director of Prestige Holidays, said such price-cutting was necessary to rebuild confidence.

“It is in the airline’s interest to fill these planes, get them moving, get people to come back and be interviewed at Gatwick or Manchester and ask: how did you get on? What was the flight like? Did you mind wearing a mask?,” he said.

“They go; no I didn’t mind wearing a mask, it was great, I feel well, I had two weeks in the sun. In the hope that this will encourage other people to go; do you know what, perhaps this is the new normal, perhaps we’ll do it.”

“It hurts the airlines desperately, but then, so does a pile of empty seats hurt them desperately.”

“It is completely about building up confidence in their customers. They don’t want to be selling cheap seats. There is no way anyone on this planet, even Michael O’Leary can argue that it is good business practice to charge eight quid for a passenger to go, it doesn’t go anywhere near the cost.