Ryanair has restored its direct flights to Barcelona from Newcastle Airport and, without wanting to get too ahead of themselves, Newcastle United fans will no doubt remember legendary European nights in the Catalan capital.
The budget airline restarted direct flights to the seaside city twice a week from Tuesday, November 1 and the routes expand an already thriving Ryanair hub at Newcastle Airport. The company currently operates flights to many European destinations, including Milan, Riga, Cork and Krakow.
Leon McQuaid, Director of Aviation Development, said: “I am delighted that Ryanair has added Barcelona to their portfolio. Ryanair now serves 22 sun and city destinations from Newcastle International Airport, which include popular destinations such as Wroclaw, Fuerteventura, Malaga and Gran Canaria. The airline has reacted to feedback from the North East travelling public for the route to be restored, and we have had an excellent response to the announcement.
“This investment represents the airline's confidence in the North East’s largest Airport and commitment to providing even more choice for passengers in the region. We look forward to welcoming even more Ryanair passengers through our doors this winter.”
For the many football fans in Newcastle, thoughts of Camp Nou and FC Barcelona likely come before any mention of tapas, cervezas and the beach. That is, of course, helped by Newcastle's history with the Catalan giants.
The Magpies have played at the Camp Nou twice in the club's history, in November 1997 and in December 2002. The former of those two fixtures was part of a famous European cup run under Kenny Dalglish towards the final years of The Entertainers squad.
Despite beating Barcelona 3-2 at St. James' Park in September 1997 thanks to a Tino Asprilla hat-trick, the side would then lose 1-0 in Spain. Newcastle would face Barcelona again in 2002 but lost 3-0 on Tyneside and then 3-1 at the Camp Nou.
Whilst Eddie Howe is remaining coy about any European hopes this year, recent form from his side has marked Newcastle as a contender to challenge for a prestigious place in the competition once again this season. When asked if a Champions League spot was on his mind, Howe said: "That’s an outrageous question! We’re just happy where we are. We’re trying to win every game. I’ll let you write the headlines. For me, it’s about keeping the players very level and very driven to win the next game.”
Whether it be this season, or in a few years' time, the Ryanair announcement might well have Newcastle fans thinking about future weeknight matches in Barcelona.