Ryanair braces itself for friendly St Valentine's weekend in Paris


Ryanair, which announced a seat sale including 500,000 "friends fly free" tickets for travel between now and March 25th, says it is bracing itself for flower-strewn planes on St Valentine's weekend.

The airline says it is dealing with more than 4,000 calls an hour since its booking lines opened last Sunday. Flights from Dublin to Luton or Stanstead cost £19.99 one-way, while flights from Cork, Knock or Kerry cost £29.99, also one-way. In both cases a companion ticket is available to each purchaser free of charge.

The promotion is also available for flights from Dublin to Paris and Dublin to Brussels, at £19.99 one-way and again a companion travels free.

According to Ryanair's head of communications, Ms Ethel Power, much of the interest is centring on Paris for St Valentine's Day and that weekend. However, she adds, Ryanair is also offering seats exLondon to its destinations in Europe - including Pisa, Rimini and Venice in Italy, Malmo and Stockholm in Sweden, and St Etienne and Toulouse in the south of France as well as Oslo in Norway for £99.98 return in total for two people inclusive of tax ex-London.

"What it means is that for £50 each passengers can enjoy a romantic return break, from the UK to those European cities, with a very cheap add-on from Dublin or the regional airports. We are expecting to see lots of flowers on Valentine's weekend," says Ms Power.

A £5 travel tax per person is payable. The location of some airports, such as Beauvais outside Paris, means that you have to pay for your transfer to the city at 50FF per person each way. Allow about 8.5 francs to the pound. Similar charges are to be expected in most other airports. The £19.99 and £29.99 flights - with free companion tickets - must be booked before February 6th, 1999 and all travel must be undertaken by March 25th.

Despite the low prices, Ryanair insists it is not engaged in below-cost selling. "We have never operated a service at a loss. It is based on encouraging people to travel in the traditional low season but people are clever and they are coming to know that this is the best time for exceptional value."