2012 charter flight/package updates

25 November 2011 – 2012 Thomas Cook update
Thomas Cook - is your holiday safe?

In a word, yes. Thomas Cook are ABTA bonded and all bookings are fully protected. This should also put your mind at rest if you are yet to book, as you will be protected.

Thomas Cook have been hit with problems to specific destinations (mainly N Africa and Thailand), and as a global brand the problems have arose from outside the UK (mainly from within Europe).

Thomas Cook has experienced a major drop in share value on the stock market, but this in itself should not cause alarm.  They are still fully functioning and open for business as usual. They will be undergoing major restructuring at the behest of their lenders (the banks) who have already appointed Ernst & Young as special advisors to Thomas Cook, a sure indication that restructuring will take place to safeguard the future of Thomas Cook.

04 August 2011 – 2012 Thomas Cook update
Booking your April 2012 package with Thomas Cook

The easy way - ring Thomas Cook direct on 01733 224 248 and speak to Bernadette Millward or email her here.
Your package includes return flight from Gatwick, 20kg hold allowance, 5kg of hand luggage and meals for the prices listed below (see hotels below).
Thomas Cook stores - now the harder way. The stores can't sell you the same package as a one off, but they can make the package up with all the components (don't ask me why, thats just the way TC have set it up) which should include return flight, 15kg hold luggage, 5kg additional hold luggage, 5kg hand luggage and meals - total price is the same as the prices prices listed below. Take the prices below into the store with you and if what you're being sold does not match, get the store to ring Bernadette Millward at Thomas Cook HQ. Or failing that, don't book with the store but ring Bernadette yourself!
Also, don't be alarmed to see the flight as listed as Monarch (MON) and not Thomas Cook (TCX) as the flight is listed with Monarch.

More accommodation options added

The following options are now available for April 2012 packages:
Skala Kallonis - Hotel Imerti and Malemi Hotel
Anaxos - Anaxos Hotel
Molivos - Sunrise and Amfitriti
For prices and to book these options call Thomas Cook direct on 01733 224 248 and speak to Bernadette Millward or email her here.

25 July 2011 – 2012 Thomas Cook update
Luggage weight (for flight info see below)
TC tell me that that you have 20kg hold luggage allowance plus 5kg hand luggage. Excess weight will be charged at £8 per kg and I've been told by TC travellers they can be strict on this.
I've tried to get this increased as we all know birders carry more gear than the regular holiday-maker, but they said thats the limit per ticket, but you can pre-book additional luggage at a cost of £35 per 5kg each way.

14 July 2011 – 2012 Thomas Cook update
Package prices and Manchester flights
Things continue to move fast on this. Hot on the heels of the flight only prices issued yesterday, Thomas Cook have now passed me details of three lots of package deals with three Skala Kallonis hotels. I don't know if this is it, or whether they will be bringing other accommodation on stream (other hotels, apartments, other resorts). Their priority has always been setting up the core Skala Kallonis resort for these two new flights.
Prices based on Gatwick departure on 21 or 28 April 2012 inc. 20kg luggage and meals.
Hotel Pasiphae | 7 nights £439, 14 nights £529
Single supplement £9 per person per night
Kalloni Bay Hotel | 7 nights £429, 14 nights £515
Single supplement £17 per person per night
Aegeon Hotel | 7 Nights £399, 14 nights £479
Single supplement £8 per person per night
Flight only (inc. 20kg luggage and meal) £239
These are not with the agents yet but you can
 email Thomas Cook here.
Bad news - no Manchester flights to 2012
Thomas Cook have confirmed that there will be no flights from Manchester for the 2012 early spring birding weeks (21 and 28 April). They have stated that with this being new business for them, they want to test the water in 2012 running from Gatwick only, and if successful, and if they sense a demand for Manchester, they'll look at adding Manchester from 2013.

For those wishing to be on the island for these two weeks (21 April - 5 May) then Thomas Cook will be your only direct flight option from the UK. Other flight only options remain from various UK airports via Athens, which for northern-based birders used to using Manchester, might prove better then traveling via Gatwick.

14 July 2011 – 2012 early spring flights
Gatwick flight only costs and flight times
Further to my announcement only a couple of days ago about Thomas Cook confirming the early spring flights for 21 and 28 April 2012 (see below), they've just provided me the flight price and times for Gatwick.
Fixed price £239 pp (inc. taxes and 20kg luggage) for 7 or 14 nights.
Flights Dep. Gatwick 0825, arriving Mytilini 1405 (local times).
Flights Ret. Mytilini 1505, arriving Gatwick 1655
(local times).

These are not with the agents yet but you can email Thomas Cook here


I hope to have package costs (flight and accommodation) shortly.
12 July 2011 – 2012 early spring flights confirmed
I met with Thomas Cook this morning and they are committing to two additional early spring flights on Saturdays 21st and 29th April 2012.
We're finalising things this week (inc. hotel contracts on Lesvos to cover these additional weeks) and I hope that we will see these flights rolled out via Thomas Cook agents in coming weeks. I've stressed the need for them to accommodate flights from both Manchester and Gatwick which I am hopeful they will be able to achieve. I'll let you know as soon as I know they are available for bookings.
From our end, we just need to ensure we fill those planes to ensure Thomas Cook keep these early spring flights for birders on their schedule for future years.
22 June 2011 – 2012 early spring flights scheduled
I’ve heard from Thomas Cook this morning that they are in the process of scheduling two new flights for 2012 departing London Gatwick on Saturdays 21 April and 28 April (that’s two weeks earlier than their current start date of 5 May). I understand that there are at present no plans to operate any flights from Manchester for these dates.
Thomas Cook are undertaking a two-part set-up phase for these ‘new’ slots. Firstly, they need to contract various hotels and other accommodation providers in order to put package holidays together. Secondly, they are gauging interest from the birding community for these two flights.
The best way you can register your interest is to contact your local Thomas Cook agent and request info for these dates. These flights are not on there website so you cant do anything other than try and send a message to them (but going via a local agent I think will be best). Also, those wanting to fly from Manchester might want to think about lobbying Thomas Cook via their agent for this.
You can of course email me (see contact on left) as I continue to work with the Skala Kallonis resort and Thomas Cook. I’ve got a meeting with Thomas Cook in early July when their Greek area manager is in the UK, and I hop that I will be able to provide a further update then.
16 June 2011
The hotels have now received official confirmation that Thomson are not flying to Lesvos in 2012. Whilst various things have been flying around since March, this is the official Lesvos-end confirmation I was waiting for before casting it in stone.
Thomas Cook are currently advertising charter flights from 5 May 2012. I'm working with various folk on Lesvos in discussions with Thomas Cook to see if we can get them to commence their flights two weeks earlier. Discussions are ongoing and I will keep you updated.
Whilst getting charter flights running from mid-April will clearly benefit those birders wanting to go to Lesvos earlier, it is critical for the local Kalloni economy that we get birders to the island from mid-April. For the area to lose two weeks of birders spend is a serious impact for those hotels, tavernas, etc open this time of year to service our needs.

Bird news update - to 17 June

Very quiet on the island. I've only got records coming in from Terry Robinson (Polichnitos area) and Eleni Galinou (Kalloni area).

Ruddy Shelduck - 2 Polichnitos Saltpans 01-08 Jun
Common Shelduck - 1 pr bred Polichnitos Saltpans
Stone-curlew - 1 Polichnitos Saltpans 05 Jun
Black-winged Stilt - at least 5 young seen at Polichnitos Saltpans
Avocet - at least 8 young seen at Polichnitos Saltpans
Eurasian Curlew - 1 Polichnitos Saltpans 07 Jun
Black-headed Gull - presumed the same single summering bird seen at both Polichnitos Saltpans and Tsiknias River
Sandwich Tern - 1 Polichnitos Saltpans 06-09 Jun
Sardinian Warbler - 1 Polichnitos Saltpans 10 Jun
Common Stonechat - 1 Polichnitos Saltpans 11-13 Jun
Corn Bunting - many seen at Polichnitos Saltpans 06 Jun

2012 day trips and holidays

I aim to publish my schedule of day trips for spring 2012 by the end of October.

As a guide, I expect to be on Lesvos between mid-April and mid-May as usual.

I plan to run a series of full-day trips during this period with around 5 day trips per week available.

If you have a group (max. 6) and want to book a full week-long holiday with me, please email me direct.