Thursday, 20 August 2009
Property - Foreign Edition
In today’s Telegraph there was a tearful article from Emma Soames on the subject of her travelling problems to her second home in the Vaucluse.
Ryanair is reported to have moved many flights from Manchester Airport elsewhere because of the landing fees, and cancelled others on “economic” grounds, which means that their tight operating margins have become eroded with a range of added costs.
Here is an extract:
“Whatever you have thrown at us, we have sucked it up, because as long as we stuck to the rules – as dreamt up, and frequently changed, by yourself – our houses in France were still accessible.
I bought my mousehole, an 18th-century village house in the Vaucluse, northern Provence, two years ago. Much as I adore the region, its lavender, markets, heavenly walks in flower-surrounded vineyards, and the endlessly amusing but gravely disappointing searches for furniture in a country that has been stripped of its heritage by American decorators.
I know that bucolic rural life is not for me full time. My initial plan for my maison secondaire was to spend a week there for each of the summer months. So far, I have only managed once or twice a month for three or four days at a stretch – but it’s Ryanair flights that make it a possibility. I can fly with other airlines from other airports. But Ryanair’s presence helps bring the price of all flights down.
The harsh fact is that without Mr O’Leary, I would be mostly stuck in England. The value of the house, and the possibility of renting it out to others, would be equally poleaxed.
Which is why all second home owners should be very watchful and worried about Mr O’Leary’s latest decision. He blames airport charges for his Manchester pull-out. But if declining profitability of such routes proves to be a factor, those of us with holiday homes will need a backup.”
The tears rolled down my cheeks. The cheap landing fees enjoyed by Ryanair at many of the destinations are in fact a subsidy from the local councils at the urging of local business interests. So what happened was that as well as a few extra tourists British property price inflation was imported by second and holiday home buyers, usually at the expense of low paid local people, and often sterilising and damaging rural communities.
Ryanair in turn has benefited from the UK government approach to alleviating the costs of air travel, again at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer.
There is little doubt that if the cost of aviation fuel were to remain high or increase and other financial pressures were to force other added costs onto the aviation industry, many more low margin routes would be affected.
So how long will it be before the Telegraph starts calling for Government assistance and extra help for all the owners of second and holiday homes elsewhere?