Businesses faced with record high rail fares, and disruption on the UK’s West Coast mainline that will continue until 2009, have been warned that things could get worse.VLM Airlines, which operates seven return services every weekday between Manchester and London City airports, says that Government moves to consider increasing taxes on air passengers discourage domestic air travel and risk creating a rail monopoly.
Johan Vanneste, Managing Director of VLM Airlines, says: “Peak time rail fares for journeys between Manchester and London are already higher than those for flights between the cities with VLM Airlines.
“But imagine what would happen if Government moves to increase air taxation forced airlines to discontinue operating domestic services. There would be no alternative should the rail network be disrupted - and, as we know, it frequently does hit problems - and rail operators would not face any competition on pricing.”
Saver Return tickets are unavailable on trains departing Manchester to arrive in London Euston before 9.30am. This means that the cheapest return journey with Virgin Trains, an Advance Return in congested Standard Class, costs £128 - rising to £230 for an Open Return and £360 in more business-friendly First.
VLM Airlines, which was found to be fastest way to central London in a recent test, offers return tickets from £120.30 (incl, tax) on flights from Manchester, including its three early morning departures which arrive into London City before 9.30am. Travellers also enjoy a full on-board service with complimentary beverages.
VLM Airlines’ Fokker 50 turboprop aircraft are among the most environmentally-friendly short-haul aircraft in the sky. Official EU statistics endorsed by DEFRA show the Fokker 50 produces significantly less CO2 emissions per passenger than other short-haul aircraft - and in many circumstances is more environmentally-friendly per passenger than high speed rail. Based on a full load, the aircraft produces just 91.6 grams of CO2 per seat per kilometre - less than a two-seater Smart Car.
VLM Airlines offers customers a frequent service to Manchester from London City, London’s most centrally located airport, with a choice of seven return flights each weekday, with two flights each Sunday and one on Saturdays.