From: Hilary Kingsley, Daily Mail
Sent: 15 January 2014
To: Jon Danzig
Subject: Re ‘Sold Out! Flights and buses full…’
Dear Mr Danzig
Thank you for your further email. We do not agree that the article is inaccurate and misleading and we see no reason to apologise to you.
Before dealing with the specific points of your argument, we would like to point out that two Daily Mail journalists made their enquiries in person in Sofia and Bucharest and were assisted by local journalists and translators. The article reported that Bulgarians and Romanians were preparing to travel to Britain as restrictions on working here were lifted because that is what a large number of people had told them. They also reported what they were told by travel agents and what they found on websites at that time. It is clearly a fluid situation, a running story. This was a ‘snapshot’ taken on the eve of a change in the rules. The picture has already changed and will go on changing, of course. If you enter a term such as ‘Romanian immigrants’ into the search box of Mail Online it is evident that we have published many articles since 31 December which raise different issues and provide different information.
Now, on the question of whether Wizz Air doubled the number of flight in some cities, while introducing new routes in other cities in Romania, we offer the following information from our researcher in Romania:
- Wizz Air now operates six daily flights from Cluj (Transylvania) to London Luton. This is up from three a day.
- Sibiu Airport announces the tender for seven new destinations. Wizz Air wins London.
- Wizz air introduced two new flights (direct flights) from Craiova (south) to London. – ziare.com
- Wizz air introduced one new flight to Luton from Timisoara (late summer 2012) – ziare.com
- In 2013, they have announced three new cities: extension in Cluj, Craiova – new, Sibiu – new.
Please note that the article does not state that the number of flights has been doubled in Bulgaria.
While you and Wizz Air state that there were flights available for 190 Euros, there were also a significant number, found by us, priced around £300.
With regard to your point about EasyJet, we would point out that this airline is not mentioned in the article. It is merely stated that almost all flights from Romania to England were full. This was established, as we have already told you, by looking on Avion and speaking with our company’s travel agent.
As to whether flights were fuller as a direct result of more Romanians and Bulgarians flying to England (because of the lifting of restrictions) we do not say so. It is for a reader to make a connection if he or she so chooses.
Finally, thank you for providing an official statement from the Balkan Horn bus company in Bulgaria stating that on various days at the beginning of January there were empty seats on buses. We can only repeat that our reporter, personally asking counter staff at a number of ticket agencies at the bus station in Sofia on the afternoon of 30 December for a bus ticket to London, was told nothing was available until 9 January. He asked if there was any other way to obtain a ticket and all told him there was not. Balkan Horn’s representative has said that some tickets are held back by the company, which explains why after our report was published, the reporter may have been able to get a ticket for one of the buses which agents at Sofia bus station believed was full. The published comments from the worker at the Balkan Horn office at Sofia bus station were given on the condition that he was not named because there is a company ban on speaking to journalists.
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