Lidl trumps rivals with low-cost flights offer

Budget supermarket chain Lidl has stolen a march on its rivals by launching a scheme to sell low-cost airline flights at its checkouts. It is the first supermarket to trial the sale of air travel.

The German-owned retailer is running the trial, which launches next week, with Air Berlin across its 390 stores in the UK and Ireland. Customers will be able to buy any Air Berlin one-way voucher for flights up to &£69 for &£19, including taxes, charges and fuel surcharges.

The flight voucher provides allocated seating and a complimentary snack and soft drink. Customers can choose from five UK destinations and 25 European locations including Düsseldorf, Rome, Majorca and Helsinki.

Lidl company director Tony Parker says the link-up further underlines the group’s “Where quality is cheaper” positioning, and insists the promotion is “not a gimmick”.

He says: “This is not a sales-led gimmick, no Lidl product purchase is necessary to buy a flight voucher, and there will be no special restrictions.”

The flights will be available from the launch of the offer in September until the end of March next year including peak travel periods such as Christmas and New Year.

The scheme also aims to raise Air Berlin’s UK profile which, despite being voted short-haul airline of the year last year by The Guardian, is little known in the UK against rivals such as RyanAir and easyJet. The German retailer operates about 5,000 deep discount department stores and “no-frills” Lidl supermarkets throughout Europe, 2,000 of which are in Germany.

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