FAMILIES flying abroad from Edinburgh Airport during the half-term holiday face crippling average price hikes of almost 150 per cent.
Figures show a boom in the cost of flights during the week-long February break, with the Edinburgh to Salzburg route seeing the greatest price increase from £127 to £541 just two weeks later – some 326 per cent.
It’s something that parents and parent bodies do raise again and again, that travel companies really exploit the situation around school holidays.Tina Woolnough
Flights to Barcelona and Milan have also seen huge rises of 276 per cent and 274 per cent respectively, with costs soaring by hundreds of pounds in each case.
But research from travel money expert FairFX found Edinburgh Airport was only the tenth-worst in the UK for half-term price booms – with flights in London spiralling by 272 per cent on average.
Last night, parent leaders accused airlines of “penalising families”.
Tina Woolnough, a city parent and former Edinburgh representative for the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “It’s something that parents and parent bodies do raise again and again, that travel companies really exploit the situation around school holidays.
“The February holidays are a good case in point, because in the week before and the week after prices drop dramatically.
“It really does penalise families. Families need a break as much as anybody.”
But Alex Ramage, parent representative on the city council’s education committee, said it was simply a case of “supply and demand”.
He said: “It’s definitely an issue, but I think it’s part and parcel of having children. It’s the law of supply and demand. That’s, in a sense, how holiday companies and travel agents make their money.
“It would be nice to be able to say, ‘Look, I don’t think you should put your prices up that much,’ but you are railing against a private industry.”
He said he found it “really difficult to criticise” those parents who choose to take their children out of school during term-time, as many mothers and fathers are faced with inflexible holiday allowances.
Council policy states that any holidays taken over school days will be recorded as an “unauthorised absence” – with parents at risk of being hit with sanctions.
But officials confirmed exceptions will be made where parents are restricted by work.
Darren Kilner, currency expert at FairFX, said: “Families with school children often have no flexibility when it comes to choosing their holiday dates, forcing them to pay significantly higher prices.”