You may have read a very interesting article a week ago in The Independent newspaper written by Simon Calder, a very high profile journalist who generally champions no-frills carriers and DIY holidays.

The article focuses on the Azores and says that the Azores are now affordable because one is able to fly there directly with Ryanair.

It is a very one-sided article which compares scheduled ticket prices and not inclusive holidays and so I thought I would put the opposite point of view to achieve some balance.

In 2005 (10 years ago), Sunvil was instrumental in establishing the first direct flight from Gatwick to the Azores, so making the islands affordable for the first time. Ryanair flights are not always cheap. Between 20th June and 12th September, 2015, prices are well over £300 per person for the most part and in fact, on the 25th July, they touch £401.84 per person! Sunvil always offers early season and late booking offers in conjunction with various hotels and this year, for the months of April, May and October, we have had prices from as low as £399 per person – including flights, transfers and accommodation. Pretty good value compared with Ryanair’s flight-only offering, I think you’ll agree.DSC_3424

But there is, of course, much more to organising a holiday to the Azores than just buying a flight from Ryanair. Last week, when the weather was bad, Ryanair and easyJet flights from Lisbon were cancelled and there was chaos in Ponta Delgada (the capital of the Azores). In April, May and October, bad weather sometimes disrupts flight schedules and it is then that you need a tour operator to take charge and make the necessary alternative arrangements. As a tour operator, Sunvil has not only to take responsibility for the actions of all its suppliers but it also has to make alternative arrangements at no extra charge to the client should bad weather or strikes disrupt flight schedules. So, in the £399 per person price, our clients get all that thrown in too, as well as a meal on the flight as part of the Sunvil deal and no extra charge for baggage.

The Azores islands are not a standard Mediterranean destination – they are in the middle of the Atlantic, with the weather to match – often four seasons’ worth in a day. Multi-centre holidays encompassing different islands are neither cheap nor easy to organise, but are our best sellers, as the islands are very different from one another and always fascinating. We put the Azores on the map from the UK 25 years ago and have supported the islands through thick and thin since then.

Perhaps because he writes for The Independent, Simon’s article concentrates on those wanting to book independently and ignores specialist operators which can often negotiate better rates with hotels, airlines and car hire companies. A specialist operator can offer expert knowledge and has the ability to arrange something more suitable – often at a very competitive price.Of course if our clients want to travel from Stansted to the Azores, then there is nothing to stop us packaging a Ryanair flight with transfers and accommodation for them. It would be a great pity however if, as a result of Ryanair’s aggressive approach, in the future there was no other way of flying directly to the Azores than by Ryanair from Stansted.




Noel Josephides

Sunvil Chairman