Take a flight to . . . where?

VERY few people have heard of it, no-one can point to it on a map or name any of its attractions - and yet you can fly there for £25.

VERY few people have heard of it, no-one can point to it on a map or name any of its attractions - and yet you can fly there for £25.

Ever heard of Tampere?

It's one of the latest nonsense journeys to nowhere destinations - which most people call “cheap flights” but the airlines and airports brand as “affordable” - putting another plane in the sky over Suffolk.

The Evening Star carried out a snapshot survey to see whether people had heard of the Finnish town.

Not one person we spoke to in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, had heard of Tampere - and not one could even say which country it might be in.

Three people though did say the £25 price of a flight would attract them to take a trip there - simply out of curiosity and because it was so cheap.

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Sadly, that is a symptom of all that is bad about these flights.

People do not sit at home wondering if there is a flight to Tampere, or Balaton, Billund, Chisinau, Kaunas, Paderborn, Bergerac or Tromso, as they might dream about visiting Rome, Madrid, Sydney, Paris or Berlin.

But as soon as there is a cut-price flight to one of these obscure places, people are unable to resist and the demand is created - one of the reasons Suffolk has so many more jets flying over it these days, plaguing countryside communities with noise and fuelling worries over pollution.

There is no way of stopping it - airlines need to generate air travel to exist; airports need air companies' planes to use their runways.

The government says air travel will double by 2030 and its plans are only just taking off.

Mark Davison, head of media relations at Stansted, said there was a demand for the affordable flights and if a route to a destination - however little known - was not viable it would not survive.

“It doesn't matter if it is Newark, New York, or Bergerac, France - the airlines only run these services if there is a demand which makes them profitable,” he said.

“The airlines look at where there is demand for a destination or interest can be created. Just because a destination may be hard to pronounce or an A level geography student couldn't find it on a map, it doesn't mean people should not go there and our surveys of people on these flights have shown there is a wide variety of reasons people might want to visit these places.”

Independent travel, allowing people to explore, was part of the travel revolution, and often while Britons may not have heard of places, the people living in those places have heard of Britain and want to visit here, boosting tourism.

Balaton is in Hungary; Billund in Denmark; Chisinau Moldova; Kaunas Lithuania; Paderborn Germany; Bergerac France; and Tromso Norway.

Should the number of planes flying over Suffolk be cut? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Voxpop: Have you heard of Tampere?

Alan Spurr, former landlord of the Dooley, Feathers and Falcon pubs in Felixstowe, now lives in Spain and uses cheap flights to visit his old home to see family and friends. “I have never heard of Tampere! But cheap flights are fine - there are no frills, it's just like getting on a bus to come home,” he said.

Beverley Clark, of Melford Way, Felixstowe, said: “Never heard of it. I would fly to the popular destinations but that's not somewhere I would want to go.”

Retired council official Henry Runnacles, of Garrison Lane, Felixstowe, though it might be in north America. “I have never been to Finland, or Scandinavia, so for £25 I would think it was worth a trip simply out of curiosity.”

Neither of couple Marion and Ron Minns, of Grundisburgh, had heard of Tampere. Mrs Minns thought it might be in Asia or Morocco, while Mr Minns had no idea and did not want to go there. “I think I would go for £25 out of curiosity, just to see what the country was like,” she said.

Yvonne Warrington, of Walton, Felixstowe, said: “I have no idea where it is - I don't think I could even guess.”

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