Is it really cheaper to fly 1,400 miles to sunny Ibiza instead of catching the train for a two-day stay in Blackpool?

A school has been criticised after it flew its trustees to Ibiza for a board meeting because it was "cheaper than travelling to Blackpool".

Monday, 11th November 2019, 2:22 pm
Langdale Free School in Bispham said it was cheaper to fly its board members to Ibiza for a meeting than it was to put them up in a Blackpool hotel for two nights

Langdale Free School in Warbreck Drive, Bispham has been investigated after allegations were made about poor cash management at the school.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency's probe revealed Montague Place, which runs the school, paid for a trip to Ibiza for trustees.

Mark Peters, chairman of Montague Place, defended the expense - saying it would have been more expensive to hold the meeting in Blackpool.

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Langdale Free School, Warbreck Drive, Bispham. Pic: Google Street View

"The flights cost less than £900, which is significantly less than what would have been the cost of the directors travelling to and staying in Blackpool for two days", said Mr Peters.

So, is Blackpool really so expensive that a 1,500 mile trip to an island in the south of Europe was cheaper than a mini-break in the resort?

We decided to find out.

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Prices vary and it can depend on the season, but the Gazette has searched for the best deal online and this is what we found.

Montague Place is based in Penarth, near Cardiff, so we used that as our starting point.

The most direct flight for the Cardiff-based board of directors would be a 5 hour 30 minute flight from Bristol Airport (40 miles away) to Ibiza, with a short stopover in Barcelona.

Flying out tomorrow morning (Tuesday, November 12) for a two night stay in a four-star hotel, the total cost would be £637 per person.

This is based on return flights with airliner KLM at £507, plus two nights at the Hotel Simbad Ibiza & Spa for £130.

In comparison, the total cost of a return journey by rail and a two night stay in Blackpool would cost £245.

This is based on an off-peak return ticket from Penarth, near Cardiff, to Blackpool North via Trainline at a cost of £117, plus two nights stay at the Hampton by Hilton hotel in New South Promenade for £128.00.

Therefore, our two-day trip to Blackpool via train comes in £392 cheaper than a return flight to, and hotel stay in, Ibiza.

Surprisingly, the estimated travel time is similar, with a flight time of 5 hours and 30 minutes to Ibiza by plane, compared to 5 hours and 20 minutes to Blackpool via train.

The ESFA said that, even though Montague Place bore the cost of the flights to Ibiza for the board meeting, the expenses should have been reported by Langdale Free School as a "related party transaction".

"Some transactions may attract public interest and so disclosure provides accountability and transparency to the public", advised the agency in regards to the board's decision to hold its meeting in Ibiza.