The great escape


There’s nothing more exciting than gearing up for a summer holiday, but when it comes to booking, what do you do if you leave it too late? Are last minute deals really so great and where, oh where, should we actually be going on holiday?

We spoke with Paul Hackett, the CEO of to find out when to get those holiday bargains and the destinations that should be on our radar.

How important is it for people to book their holidays early?

“The earlier you book, the more you’re going to save and we can see that when we’re looking at flight prices and package prices. It is a case that the early bird gets the best deals, that’s for sure. But with the likes of Ryanair and Aer Lingus having so much capacity to all of the sun holiday destinations this year, there are still plenty of deals out there.”

Do you notice major price jumps in flights and accommodation during the summer?

“What’s really noticeable is once you get to July how high the price jumps. May is still great value. August to September, great value. But July across the board does seem high. What’s happened is that those flights [in July] are very well sold so if people have any flexibility that would be good. Let’s say with families. A lot of families can travel in June, a lot can travel in August. July just does seem to be the one that if you have to go, you’re going to pay.”

Are there any good last-minute deals available for summer 2016?

“I think this year that’s going to be a bit tough and there’s two real reasons. One, we’d no summer last year so loads of people who waited until the last minute couldn’t even get a holiday or, if they did, it was to a city rather than a beach resort… The other thing that’s going to affect the last minute bookings this year is the fact that most people who are looking to travel this summer tend to be concentrating on the likes of Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands. There’s almost no business to Turkey and that’s huge.”

With the huge demand for places like Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands this year, are we better off looking at city breaks in a bid to save money?

“You get a better deal on cities and there tends to be less pressure on the destinations in comparison to the sun destinations. Our top selling cities at the moment are Rome, Barcelona, Budapest, Prague and Berlin. They’re consistently great value and the frequency of flights out of Ireland to those destinations is brilliant.”

What was the top selling city last year?

“Madrid in the summer time. Madly hot, but it is the greenest capital city in Europe and it offers nice weather. The Irish were quite happy to escape from the misery here because it was miserable last summer and the hotel prices are cheap because it’s so hot, so they do less business. When the business traffic drops off, which it always does in summer, the hotels lower their prices so city breaks are actually great value in the summer time.”


As there’s such demand for traditional sun holidays this year, are there any other destinations where people can enjoy a similar experience but without the crowds?

“What we’re working hard on is bringing in a couple of destinations that are not news destinations in Spain, but are new to the Irish market. There’s a resort area, an entire coast called the Costa Calida which is near Murcia. Ryanair fly there, Aer Lingus fly there. Costa Calida means the ‘warm coast’ and they get over 300 days of sunshine every year. It’s really popular with the Spanish so we’re trying to offer that as an option… What we’re trying to do is find alternative Spanish destinations to the traditional ones.”

What advice would you give to someone who has yet to book a holiday for summer?

“I would try and encourage people, if they’re booking a sun holiday, to get a move on because it’s only going to get busier. There’s not going to be the same level of availability there has been in previous years. You can see it with the July prices being so high. They’re high in July, that means that people are going to start booking August. Then August will go, then June will go high – it’s not going to be a case of hold on and [the price] will drop. That isn’t going to happen… The deals are definitely there if you can travel in May, the early part of June, September, October and November.”

For more information log on to

Catherine Devane