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Channel operators revamp Websites

Cross-channel operators P&O Ferries and Eurotunnel are to copy no-frills airlines by offering customers a simplified price structure when they book on the Internet.

From next month, the companies will unveil revamped Websites with cheap fares for people who book in advance. Prices will change frequently depending on demand and rise closer to departure - a system favoured by airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet.

The no-frills carriers have succeeded in persuading the vast majority of their customers to book online and the cross-channel operators are hoping their new systems will lead to an increase in direct bookings.

P&O Ferries offers 25 sailings a day from Dover to Calais with one-way

fares from £30 to over £200, while Eurotunnel has up to four crossings per hour between Folkestone and Calais, with prices from £49 to £320.

Various fares are currently available on different dates throughout the season but both companies have been criticised for their complicated pricing structures and various restrictions on bookings.

P&O Ferries and Eurotunnel will also follow the airlines by offering people a choice of crossings. When holidaymakers use the companies' Websites to request a particular trip, they will also be given the prices of crossings immediately before and after the one requested. People can then compare prices and, if they wish, choose a cheaper alternative.

A spokesman for P&O Ferries said: "We have around 20,000 reservations a day and it has all got too complicated. We are starting with a clean slate and making it far easier for people."

A spokesman for Eurotunnel added: "The market has changed. The no-frills airlines have changed the way people look at pricing and we have to respond."

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