Thomas Cook lured to the south coast

Flybe has reinforced Southampton Airport’s reputation as the UK’s ‘gateway’ to the near continent, by introducing several new routes to France. The additions, made at the end of May 2011, bring Southampton’s total number of routes for summer 2011 to 49 destinations.

Southampton Airport has enjoyed something of a popularity boost in recent weeks. The hub welcomed airline, Thomas Cook, to the south coast on May 29 2011, just a few days after UK domestic carrier, Eastern Airways, began promoting a new flight from Southampton to Dijon in France, due to take off for the first time next week, on June 6. Thomas Cook has already begun flying from the Hampshire hub to the Balearic Island of Menorca.

Flybe has forged links between Southampton and Clermont-Ferrand, Béziers, and Pau. The airline now offers 18 flights to France, including two to Paris.

Clermont-Ferrand is located in the very centre of France, close to a series of dormant volcanoes, the Chaîne des Puys. The city is heavily industrialised, and is even twinned with one of England’s most famous industrial towns, Salford in Manchester. The French commune is one of the oldest cities in France, and has both Gothic and Romanesque architecture within its limits.

Pau, a landlocked city on the Franco-Spanish border, is a popular destination for fans of motor racing. A race in Pau at the beginning of the 20th century was the first to carry the title, ‘Grand Prix’, and Formula 1 events have continued to occur on a yearly basis ever since. The city is also the site of Napoleon’s holiday home, Château de Pau.

Finally, Béziers, twinned with Stockport, is located on the opposite side of the Gulf of Lyon to Marseille. The city is home to a number of Gothic churches, as well as a prominent bull-fighting event, which takes place every year.

Speaking about Southampton’s new routes, Jan Halliday, marketing chief at the Hampshire airport, said, “The start of five new routes and a new operator joining the airport is fantastic news for the region”. The director hailed the additions as a sign that the summer season was “really getting under way”.

Tickets for Pau and Clermont-Ferrand begin at £52.99, taxes included, whereas a one-way trip to Béziers is priced at £68.99. Flights will operate "several times a week", according to the airport.

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