Well, the euro has arrived and the big party went ahead with few problems. Most people in Majorca have taken to the new single currency with little fear, a state of affairs which looks set to continue. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said that it was the dawn of a new era as the euro party got underway. But the only people who seem to want to get in on the act are the British. Yesterday's UK newspapers were full of reports about people being overcharged in Britain when they purchased items using euros. Even the Sun , probably the most anti-euro newspaper, splashed on its front-page a report on euro over-charging in Britain. But for the benefit of those who have been living on Mars for the last decade Britain has not joined the euro and Britain was not invited to the big party. The fact that a limited number of UK shops and businesses accept the euro is not an issue, they also accept the U.S. dollar and other major world currencies. Also, if you pay in euros the change you receive is in pence. The national currency of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is still the pound sterling.

So why the big fuss? The euro party is on mainland Europe not in Britain. Whatever may happen in the future the British government is probably right in thinking that the advent of the single currency has got people thinking and reading yesterday's newspaper you got the impression that some were rather upset that the invitation to the euro party had not arrived. British policy is wait and see.

Wait and see what?

Jason Moore

No fear of flying

Are people still afraid to fly? The reduced services and passenger loads over the Atlantic suggests that the threat of further terrorist attacks continues to deter potential travellers. Why, then, were the low-cost carriers easyjet and Go able to report yesterday that their December business was up 25 per cent and 50 per cent respectively over the same period a year ago? One obvious answer is that these airlines are flying short distances in Europe and their passengers consider any risk to be smaller than a six or seven hour transatlantic flight. Of more importance, perhaps, is that America is seen, rightly or wrongly, as being the primary target of the terrorists. One of the low-fare operators said yesterday that much of its increased Christmas traffic was to destinations in southern Europe, especially to Alicante, Malaga and Palma, which offer some of the attractions of Florida that once were so popular with British vacationers at Christmas.

There is another point which British Airways and the long-haul operators should perhaps ponder. Even before September 11 the flying public had shown a decided liking for low-cost no-frills flying and there is no reason why its appeal should not extend to longer routes, especially those between western Europe and America's eastern seaboard. Freddie Laker and his Skytrain made the idea work thirty years ago until he was squeezed out by the big boys; perhaps now is the time to revive it. What is not realistic is the attitude shown in a recent Financial Times review of the year - “The world seems to have started to travel again, with Concorde flitting between London and Barbados and New York at twice the speed of sound.”

Monitor

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