File image of a aircraft. SUR
Major British airline in talks to open new routes and operate charter flights to the south of Spain

Major British airline in talks to open new routes and operate charter flights to the south of Spain

In an effort to attract tourists back to the Costa de la Luz, talks are being held about the possibility of several UK regional airports offering flights to the destination

Javier Rodríguez


Monday, 6 May 2024, 14:23


The province of Cadiz in the south of Spain is once again casting its nets to attract more British tourists back to the area. This is an important source of holidaymakers that disappeared from the Costa de la Luz after the collapse of the tour operator Thomas Cook in September 2019. Jerez airport plays a key role in this new initiative with the possibility of hosting charter flights run by a British operator.

La Voz de Cádiz, a sister newspaper of SUR, has discovered that negotiations are currently under way with the UK operator to recover the flow of tourists and, above all, to re-establish flight connections via charters. One of the nearest examples of such a recovery is in Almeria where its airport, with similar characteristics to that of Jerez airport, has managed to attract the attention of British tourists thanks to the operator

British tourists have never been a market leader among those who flock to Cadiz province. Germans and Belgians are the ones really colonising the Cadiz coast. However, that could all change if the latest plans take off.

Success in Almera

British airline, which has been operating in Almería for more than five years, unveiled its growth plans for the 2024 summer season at the last Fitur travel and tourism fair in Madrid, and Almeria airport was one of the airports to benefit most from the increase in seats andflight connections. After consolidating its position in 2023 as the fifth busiest airline in Almeria and the third busiest in terms of passengers to and from the UK with more than 26,000 passengers, announced last January that it will add 8,000 more seats in arrivals to Almería this summer. The total number of potential tourists arriving at El Alquián airport with will be more than 36,000, some 30% more than in the summer of last year. Thus, Jet2 will offer direct connections from Almeria to four airports in the UK (Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds-Bradford and Manchester) with up to eight weekly flights, two more than those operating last year.

A similar plan is now being pursued in Cadiz, where the regional governing bodies have made every effort to attract British tourists. In fact, the provincial delegate responsible for Tourism, Germán Beardo, had already made some initial contacts in this regard last November at the UK tourism trade fair World Travel Market. It was at this event that the provincial government set some of the objectives for winning back the Brits tourists. Packages linked to fashion, culture, flamenco, golf and horses were put on the table.

The type of tourist sought, Beardo said at the time, is "the family type of person interested in the world of culture, golf, a high earner who generates wealth and quality employment in our province. We are keeping well away from the overcrowding happening in other areas of Spain and we are looking for the average spend by every tourist to keep on going up and up."

The big push

For the time being, every effort has been made to ensure that British tour and airline operators include Cadiz as a destination in their agendas. It is expected that these negotiations will soon bear fruit in order to open a route in February 2025 between Jerez airport and some UK regional airports.

The collapse of the major UK tour operator Thomas Cook in 2019 had an impact on the province in towns such as Conil, Chiclana and Rota, where the company had agreements with several hotel chains offering sun, beach and golf package holidays. The impact of Thomas Cook's closure was even greater in the Canaries and Balearics, where the group had hotels and thousands of bookings per year. British tourists arriving in Cadiz through Thomas Cook did so via Condor, the German airline subsidiary of the British company.

Flattering publicity campaign in British newspapers

This feverish desire for British tourists to return has been preceded by a free and flattering publicity campaign in British newspapers. The British press has made a very favourable contribution over the last five years promoting Cadiz as a tourist destination. This favourable wind has enabled tourism leaders in Cadiz to build bridges with British operators. The Daily Express said that Spain, in general, is one of the preferred destinations for British tourists in summer, with Barcelona and Madrid, along with the Mallorcan coastline, being the most sought-after areas. But the Daily Express added that, "according to avid travellers, there is another Spanish spot that is a must-visit for sun worshippers." While acknowledging that Granada and Malaga cities are two of the most popular places in Andalucía, "the most ardent travellers have taken to TikTok to share why Cadiz is the must-visit destination."

It is not the only UK daily to praise Cadiz. The Daily Mail, one of the most widely-read newspapers in the UK, also published a report in 2023 highlighting the "charming" city of Cadiz with recommendations for a 48-hour stay in the city.

The British represent the second largest international market for tourism in Cadiz. According to figures quoted by the provincial tourist board drawn from data provided by Spain's INE national statistics institute, during the year 2022 (the last one available), more than 95,600 tourists from the United Kingdom stayed in hotels in the province of Cadiz. The figure was almost double the number of British visitors staying in Cadiz hotels during 2021 (48,500). The British who stayed overnight in Cadiz in 2022 were only surpassed in numbers by the Spanish and Germans.

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