Dear Editor, FOLLOWING the acquisition of GB Airways by EasyJet, J Corbett expressed his fears over the demise of a business-class service between the UK and Majorca from next year. (Letter to the Editor, October 31). On the same day, Air Berlin operated what might be the last direct flights between London Stansted and Majorca. Air Berlin is not offering the route on its winter schedule and no-one seems to know whether it will operate a direct service next summer.

The carrier launched its service some four years ago in response to competition from EasyJet on German routes to Majorca. Semi-residents and frequent visitors to the island soon came to appreciate that Air Berlin service levels were of a higher standard than those of other low-cost carriers-specific examples being seat allocation at check-in, free on-board snack and soft drinks and complimentary newspapers. Bonus Card holders enjoyed, amongst other things, a dedicated check-in desk at Stansted and higher baggage allowances. Sports gear was carried at no charge.

Given that airlines do not usually withdraw from profitable routes it would appear that EasyJet's apparent dominance, and the more recent arrival of Ryanair on the route, have given Air Berlin cause to rethink the profit potential of a direct Stansted to Palma service. In truth, Air Berlin's marketing of the service in the UK has been negligible. None of the many British people to whom I have recommended Air Berlin have known the carrier's name, let alone associated it with a service to Majorca! J Corbett's message was, essentially, that there are British visitors to the Balearics who are willing to pay a little extra for a little more service and that the islands should try to persuade another carrier to offer a service level commensurate to GB Airways. Air Berlin's Silver Bonus Card was initially available to purchase at 50 euros; latterly the carrier linked its availability to air miles flown. Although it did not offer business-class seating, its service levels were very impressive.

As the airline with the greatest number of flights into Majorca, is it possible that Air Berlin might be persuaded to resume a direct service from the UK to Palma next summer. If it does, it needs to sell itself much harder in Britain; it might even have to re-brand a subsidiary for greater focus: how about Air Mallorca or the Air Berlin Mallorca Shuttle?

In the meantime, it is easy to sympathise with airlines that decide to scale back their winter services to “sunshine” destinations. For all the talk on Majorca of a winter tourism - as I left my apartment - Port de Pollensa was closing down for its customary winter hibernation amidst heavy rain and strong wind. Vic Lock Colchester, UK


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