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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Is a cheap flight enough to tempt you to Klagenfurt?

There's a new Europe growing - one whose borders and tourist destinations are decided by the low-cost airlines. Is this the start of EasyEurope?
The rise and rise of the low-cost airline has revolutionised the short-break holiday.

Once upon a time, gadding off to Europe for the weekend was beyond the reach of most holidaymakers. Today a proliferation of budget airlines clamour for our hearts and wallets with eye-poppingly low fares.

Freefoto.com
Nearby ski slopes may well be more of a draw
While several carriers fly to the tourist capitals of Europe, the newest additions to the schedules need more than a little explaining.

Take the latest low-cost destination. Last week Ryanair added Klagenfurt to its itinerary - the 40th new budget route from the UK this year.

Never heard of it, let alone know that it has an airport? No matter, with tickets from just 10 one way, the Irish carrier no doubt hopes that bargain-conscious travellers will buy now and find fun in sunny south Austria later.

And Buzz has dispensed with pesky details such as where it actually flies to in its summer publicity push. It instead tempts with taglines such as "You know where Parisians go for the weekend? We fly there". Who would book a flight to Caen otherwise?

Sunny Bournemouth
Why go to the Med when Bournemouth awaits?
The same goes for our friends across the Channel. Ryanair now has bases in Belgium and Germany, and flies to Shannon in the Irish Republic and Bournemouth in England respectively.

"We've got so much more adventurous," says Lynn Hughes, of Wanderlust magazine. "People are prepared to buy a 9.99 flight to a place they've never heard of.

"And boutique hotels are becoming very fashionable. People may want to fly cheap but they want to splash out when they get there."

In response, publishers have started to put out guides to destinations off the beaten track. In addition to its series on landmark cities, Time Out now publishes a guide to low-cost Europe.

Come fly to me

Because budget airlines have to work harder for their profits, regional centres are an attractive prospect.

Newquay airport, now served by Ryanair
Tiny airport, cheap landing fees
Not only might local officials slash already cheap baggage handling, refuelling and landing fees, they may agree to cover marketing costs and airport upgrades in deals which can run to millions of pounds.

"They are certainly welcomed with open arms," Ms Hughes says.

In France, where unemployment is rife, numerous small towns have been clamouring for the attentions of the no-frills carriers looking to expand.

British ex-pats in Bergerac, for instance, joined in to lobby first Ryanair and then Buzz to provide a low-cost link "home".

Brits in France
Spend 300 a week on average, plus flights and rooms
The sackloads of postcards inscribed "Wish You Were Here" sent to the airline bosses paid off - the first Buzz plane touched down in Bergerac last March.

As befits the new borderless Europe, holidaymakers may be steered to an airport across the border from their chosen destination - making it a long trip to the hotel.

Click here for a map

Want to fly to Switzerland on the cheap? Forget Zurich for now, its non-EU passenger duty make it more expensive for no-frills carriers than Geneva, where the runway juts into France. But come November, the Chancellor plans to drop this tax to EU levels.

Can't find a flag carrier with a bargain flight to Copenhagen? Try going via Malmo, Sweden. Or Lille, perhaps? No budget carriers fly there yet, but Charleroi in Belgium is handy(ish).

Off the beaten track

But the airlines are well-aware that some of their more obscure destinations require a hard sell.

Copenhagen
The airport is a hop and a skip away... in Sweden
Ryanair's passengers flying to Frankfurt may have overlooked the small print while booking cheap flights to the German city. The airline actually flies to Hahn, some 70 miles to the west.

Earlier this year, the British Consumers Association rapped Ryanair for using airports many miles from the destinations it claims to serve. It cited, among others, the use of Bologna's Forli airport, 59 km from the Italian city. Ryanair denied it was misleading its customers.

Nevertheless, a new Europe is opening up to those in search of a mini-break. It may not be a place most Britons recognise, but it is still that magical destination known as "abroad".


Have you been to Klagenfurt, or any of the other more obscure destinations served by low-cost airlines? Worth the trip?

Klagenfurt is a very quaint city and, with the big lake and surrounding mountains, a real activity paradise. Doesn't get much more scenic than this corner of Austria - and it's just a short trip to other popular destinations in Austria, Italy and Slovenia.
M Suchy, US

It also happens to be the closest airport to Seeboden, home of the annual European Bodypainting Festival, and it's a cheaper and easier journey than going via Salzburg.
Rick Mills, Wiltshire, UK

And on the beautiful Ayrshire coast, gateway to Burns country, there's Glasgow Prestwick airport. It's only 30 miles from Glasgow.
Steve, Scotland

I used to live in Tours. It is the most beautiful city, right in the heart of the Loire Valley and handy to Paris. I can't recommend it enough, particularly Place Plumereau in the town centre, the lively 16th Century quarter for nocturnal festivities.
Charles Holloway, UK

I picked up a Go flight to Bologna for 35 return. I'd never heard of it before but I'd highly recommend it or any other obscure destination. It's nice to go to a place which isn't over run by tourists or horribly overpriced.
Jenni, UK

Flew to Hahn for 25. What a fantastic experience going through such a small airport with an excellent cafe and an excellent car rental firm next to it where we hired a car to get to a beautiful village two hours away.
Dave Ingham, UK

Just pick any small Italian destination - they're all lovely spots with historical sites to visit, you can find a inexpensive hotel easily and heaven knows the food's going to be great.
Lisa , UK

Look at Ryanair's Hamburg destination -- it's actually Lubeck, which is 1,000 times more wonderful and beautiful than Hamburg.
Mel Huang, Scotland

On the train, 15 quid gets me as far as Rhyl. That is where I had planned to surprise my betrothed on our honeymoon. But now I may consider Klagenfurt.
Ludwig Lloyd, Wales

And just look how far Gatwick, Stansted and Luton are from London - they're all described as London airports.
Andrew Fricker, England

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11 Jun 02 | Business
16 May 02 | Business
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