The Ibiza Flight Price Rip Off


UK flight only prices have hit an all time high all over Europe but especially for Ibiza, in this blog I analyze the situation and study its effect on the island. 

It wasn’t so long ago that you could jump on a cheap one-way flight to Ibiza then pitch up at the airport again a few days later and ask around a few desks for a £50 ‘standby flight ticket’.  Unfortunately 9/11 changed the whole face of air travel, tightening up all the regulations and changing it from perceived glamour to a tedious security laden process.

Then in the early noughties the Internet revolution came with ‘low cost carriers’ offering super cheap lead-in prices. They bucked the market and turned it on its head because their business model meant that the longer you waited the more you paid, the complete opposite to the traditional tour operators who dumped seats and holidays at the last minute to put bums on seats. Now 15 years down the line the tours operators are hanging on by their fingertips whilst the airlines have become the mainstay of the Ibiza market 

Flight prices have steadily risen especially over the last 5 years and now we are at the crossroads. a quick look at most flights for September will see that the cost is anything from 200 – 400 euros ONE WAY with the higher prices coming from the so called ‘low cost carriers’, oh the irony

The rise of the premium flag carriers into the island has increased prestige but also hiked up prices especially for weekend traffic at good times. Early lead in prices are attractive but soon the prices start to become eye watering so a last minute decision to have a weekend in Ibiza will cost you roughly about the same as a weekend in New York or Moscow or LA or Sydney for that matter.

How did this happen and what impact has it has on the white isle? Specialist tour operator Kirk Field told me: “my numbers are down by 50% this year. Every day I hear of people not booking because return flights are unprecedentedly high”

So Ibiza is not only pricing itself out of the market but it also losing its last minute arrivals, those who decide a few weeks before. Everything now has to be planned months or even years in advance to avoid the sky high late prices (pun intended). 

This early stimulation is good for forward planning and cash flow but limits the spontaneous last minute market that is important especially in early and late season. San Antonio Bay bar manager Sue Pritchard said “The flights have been crazy prices this year, so many of our regular visitors have gone else where…”

When checking the prices you can’t help thinking there is a conspiracy (or blatant profiteering) when it comes to Ibiza. Look at prices from London to Mallorca compared to London to Ibiza and you will see a sizable difference. Now before you start screaming ‘it’s just supply and demand’ you can’t help feeling that it’s also about maximum yield, in other worlds, what price Ibiza people are prepared to pay as opposed to other destinations. It would seem that the Ibiza ceiling is much higher than anywhere else, are the airlines reading the press and saying “well if they can afford a table in Ushuaia then I’m sure they can afford £300 for a one-way flight”? The probable answer unfortnately is yes and yes. 

It’s no wonder that youngsters and families are deserting the white isle to go to emerging destinations such as Croatia where prices for flights, accommodation and living costs are considerably less. UK travel agent Karen Cianfini: “These prices are one of the main reasons that families can not travel to Ibiza in low season, I could book so many but end up sending customers to Mallorca as much cheaper”. 

Once again this ‘system’ is squeezing the middle market with some not baulking at £500 for a return weekend flight from London City but it will also cost a couple over £2000 for a weekend on the white isle during June or September, hardly a drop in the ocean.

The only ‘solution’ is for travelers to understand the system and for Ibiza business people to cut their cloth according and jump on the early booking bandwagon and don’t expect too much last minute action. For value for money it’s all about early bookings, of course the island will go through peaks and troughs but for now we are going through a major peak so the age of the £50 flights during the 4 peak months is a thing of the past.

San Antonio: The Great Closing Time Debate

 Last week Duane Lineker (Ocean Beach), Clodagh Enright (Flaherty’s Irish Bar) and myself were present at a meeting chaired by Deputy Mayor Pablo Valdes for local businesses to have their say on the way forward for San Antonio. Many subjects were discussed such as refuse collection, noise pollution and public image however the media (who are a good barometer for local issues) were only interested in 1 topic and that was bar and club closing times.

There’s been much heated debate about this since former Mayor Pepita Gutierrez took it upon herself to change the West End bar closing times from 6am to 5am without formal consultation. Her reasoning was that if the bars closed at 5am then local residents wouldn’t have to face the remnants of a night out on their way to work the following morning but the 5am closing doesn’t appear to have stopped all the people from partying, some carry on drinking at the local beach therefore moving the ‘problem’ from a contained environment to a public place. 

It wasn’t that long ago that Ibiza bars could open as and when they wanted including ‘after hours’ from 6am but now there are several different rules governing 1 town. For example, a large nightclub on the outskirts of San Antonio is allowed to close its doors at 8am whereas one in the middle of town needs to be closed by 5am. Daytime has also been restricted so music can’t be played until after 4pm.

Our newly formed British Association has many members who are bar owners and they consistently point to their restricted opening hours as reason for them going through tough times. 

Nathan Seal from Viva Bar told me “In 2013, the last full year of 6am opening, we took enough money between 5am and 6am to cover around 50% of the entire wage bill for the year”

He continued “The other issue is the stealth change to the opening hours. All music bars (known locally as ‘cafe conciertos’) went from opening 12pm- 6am to 4pm-5am so we have actually lost 5 hours, not just the 1 hour everyone is shouting about”

To throw more fuel on the fire San Antonio is no longer the preferred Ibiza destination for many of the traditional 18-35 market and the new resorts don’t seem to worry too much about noise pollution. With all the competition and local law changes there has been very slim pickings on offer for bar owners over the last couple of years. 

The new 3-party coalition governing San Antonio was voted in after promising local residents a fundamental change but it appears that in all the debates, accusations and counter accusations many local people have forgotten that San Antonio relies solely on tourism and, rightly or wrongly, became famous as a the town where you could party until sunrise (if you wished). Now in many cases the UK licensing laws have been relaxed whilst Ibiza’s has been tightened, a role reversal. 

Social media has also given a clear voice to local San Antonio residents who have made it perfectly clear that they voted for change and that is what they expect and they are pointing the finger at the British community as the cause of most of the noise and control problems but when the majority of tourists are from 1 place then that is always going to be the case. 

A consensus needs to be sought that reflects the needs of the residents but also gives the bar and club owners a fair crack at earning enough money to get them through the winter. It won’t be easy but negotiations will start soon so new laws can be in place by summer 2016. New laws that are fair on everyone and reflect the needs of all the community and don’t favor residents over commerce or clubs over bars.

No one said it was going to be easy. 

San Antonio Tube Map


San Antonio Tube Map

San An Line – reasonable condition, still awaiting major investment from the private sector. Union disputes commonplace. Functions surprisingly well considering extreme pressure during high season (Parcial service from 1 Nov-30 Apr)

Sunset Line – major private investment commonplace, currently under investigation by monopolies & mergers commission. 

West End Line – disembark here for outdoor theatre district, area due for major overhaul (delayed indefinitely), can be prone to overcrowding at certain times. Night service now available only until 5am. (please note: closed Nov-Apr)

Looky Line – little police presence so please be very cautious. Subject to sporadic unplanned expansion

Font/Church Line – closed Mon-Sat

Mambo Line – addition of more stations inevitable, route now extended to Ibiza Rocks House 

Food Express – saver tickets always available, high traffic at certain times so delays inevitable 

Meal Line – buffet car unavailable, comfort food available at the end of the line

Eden/EsParadis – limited service so please check timetable

Ocean Beach – beware of disorientated cattle crossing the track, especially just after sunset

Linekers/Boozer/Highlander – expect congestion on match days  

Seniors – discounts available 01/04-20/05 & 01-31/10

Saver Wristbands – only applicable at certain times. Check individual stations for details 

Ibiza Weekend Offender: The Changing Face of Tourism

As the sun finally sets on another busy August, Ibiza now has only 8 more weeks of ‘summer’ tourism until it’s time to batten down the hatches, count the pennies and relax as international tourism goes into standby mode for almost 5 months.

While the blue chip businesses have reported record numbers, others are talking of a steep decline in takings. There appears to be a big swing in fortunes which has taken many by surprise but times are changing and not least the profile of the ‘tourists’ that now grace the white isle.

Ever since the ‘low cost’ carriers began flying into Ibiza nearly 15 years ago the type of tourist has been gradually changing and now the cycle is almost complete.  The traditional 7, 10 and 14 night family package holiday is now exclusively reserved for school holidays – 1 week in May/1 week in October/6 weeks in August – so out of the 26 week ‘summer’ season there are 18 weeks where families with kids don’t come into the equation. For June, July and September Ibiza still relies on it’s traditional 18-35 market and then a slightly more mature market in May and October.

All this has given rise to the Ibiza Weekend Offender – those who are cash rich but time poor, those who pack 7 days of action into a 3 or 4 night stay, those who view a weekend in Ibiza in the same way they view a festival, those who don’t come on holiday but have a ‘weekend away’ so only need hand luggage and most importantly those who spend the same amount of money in 3 days as they would in 7.

The official government figures back this up, the average stay in Ibiza for 2015 is as follows:

Jul:  5.45 nights per person
Jun:  5.30
May:  4.79
Apr:  5.03
Mar:  4.46
Feb:  3.67

On closer inspection the average stay has been in free fall since 2008 and we can only presume this will continue as the world gets smaller. The figures suggest that we all want to travel more, to find new and exciting destinations but we also don’t want to miss out on our annual “Ibiza Fix”.  So the new profile of Ibiza tourist will now come over for a long weekend and because time is so precious the result is an overly organized trip where the same 4 or 5 venues are visited leaving no time to discover any of the other magnificent places that Ibiza has to offer.  Unfortunately spontaneity is almost extinct for the Ibiza Weekend Offender who lives on social media.

In fact for some the thought of 7 nights on the White Isle is now almost unthinkable, mainly because their health and wallet couldn’t take the pressure so weekend traffic is considerably higher than during the week. It had to happen sometime – Ibiza has grown up, it sleeps during the week and parties at the weekends.

The challenge to local business is how do you convert the near 7 million arrivals into profit as the juxtaposition is that as Ibiza becomes ever more popular it’s the same places that continue to succeed and it’s nothing more sinister than a genuine lack of time for an Ibiza Weekender Offender who can only cram in so much partying and selfies into 72 hours. So instead of seeing the beauty of the island it’s flash hotel rooms, pool parties and super clubs. Sounds great if you are in Las Vegas but surely not if you are on one of the most beautiful islands of the world.

So the good news is that Ibiza is at the top of it’s game but the not so good news is that certain sectors aren’t getting their traditional piece of the pie and don’t seem able to react accordingly. Meanwhile the top end gets more exclusive/expensive as the demand grows and the bottom end continues to cater for those who want the experience but not the cost. The bad news is that the middle market again gets squeezed out and when it comes to tourism that’s where the money is for the normal day to day businesses on the island.