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Blair holiday plans hit turbulence

Blair will be flying on Irish Ryanair, not British competitor easyJet as first reported  

LONDON, England -- Prime Minister Tony Blair has unwittingly flown into trouble over his summer holiday in France.

Blair, anxious to emphasise his credentials as a "people's leader," had decided to use a low-cost airline to fly to Gascony in southwest France, where he, his wife, Cherie, and their four children will be holidaying at a chateau in St.Martin D'Oydes.

What should have been a public relations coup, however, crash landed when it was revealed that rather than flying with British budget airline easyJet, as originally reported, Blair would in fact be using Irish rival Ryanair instead.

The revelation, which received wide and gleeful coverage in the British press, has caused acute embarrassment to the prime minister's publicists.

It has also proved expensive for easyJet which, believing that Blair would be flying with them, launched a six-figure advertising campaign to highlight the fact.

Blair's decision to fly with a budget airline was taken following widespread criticism of his 2000 summer break, when he used an RAF plane to fly him and his family to France and Italy at a cost to the taxpayer of 20,000 ($28, 356).

Word leaked that he would fly with one of Britain's leading budget flight companies, easyJet, which duly plastered its posters and promotional material with the tagline "Even Tony Blair got a bargain this month."

"The way it works is that Blair and his entourage do not book under their real names," an easyJet spokesman explained to the Times newspaper. "The story ran in the press and there was never any comment from No. 10 to say it was wrong."

The error was only discovered when someone noticed that the only budget airline which went anywhere near Blair's proposed Gascony retreat was not easyJet but Ryanair.

"It was a mistake," admitted an embarrassed government spokeswoman.

The prime minister is currently on holiday in Mexico. He returns later this week and will enjoy a brief break in southwest England before flying to France later this month.

• easyJet
• Ryanair
• Gascony

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