Why it’s sometimes bad to be an Englishman abroad
When you decide to live abroad, you realise that you’re choosing some good things – sunshine, cheap living, a great lifestyle – at the cost of other equally important things, such as regularly seeing friends and family. In order to go back home for those can’t-miss festivals with your mates or a big family wedding, you have to rely on budget airlines to get you home for a reasonable price.
While the wages in Southeast Asia are enough to live on here, they don’t go far when your hand is in your pocket looking for money to buy return flights to the UK. Thank god for Air Asia, we’ve always said. Travel bloggers have written endless posts about ways to bag cheap flights, even how to get from London to Cambodia for £100.
So imagine the collective gasp of horror when last month when Air Asia announced that they were axing their long-haul routes to London and Paris. Expats across Southeast Asia shed a solitary tear as the last option for budget travel across the globe suddenly vanished overnight. Routes into Mumbai and Delhi were also cut, with the fleet being redeployed to more profitable Asian and Australian routes. CEO of AirAsia X, Azran Osman-Rani, explained:
“The implementation of the emissions trading scheme and the escalating air passenger duty taxes in UK, which will rise yet again in April 2012, forced our decision to withdraw our services to Europe.”
For the first time, their cheap flights to Australia now include KL to Sydney (as of April 1st). It’s bound to be a surefire moneymaker, as it seems more backpackers than ever are braving Australia’s leonine economy in the attempt to make their own fortune on the back of a working holiday visa. Flights to Australia are as popular as ever.
So where does this leave the rest of us? Pretty badly off, really. The cheapest deals for travel between Southeast Asia and Europe – say Bangkok to London – now lean heavily on Indian airlines such as Jet Airways, and the Taiwan-based EVA Air. Even their best deals and promotions are nearly twice the price of the best deals on Air Asia. The only option for the unfortunate Englishman abroad is to either find the money from somewhere or to miss out on going home. I’m currently scrabbling around for deals for this summer for my best friend’s wedding but unless I can find something for under £700 return, it looks like I’ll be witnessing another wedding from the wrong side of the globe. Sad face.