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Holidaymakers out of pocket as airport euro exchange rates hit fresh low

Mark Dorman
The pound has suffered a battering against the dollar and euro since the Brexit referendum (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Currency exchange rates at UK airports have hit fresh lows with holidaymakers getting just €0.86 to the pound at some bureaux de change.

New research shows Moneycorp at Southampton airport offering the lowest rate across the country. The average rate at 16 large UK airports was higher, at €0.95 to the pound.

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Just a week ago, it was revealed the euro to £ rate had fallen to €0.87, so the downward trend hitting travellers chasing last-minute holiday cash is continuing.

The latest research was carried out by foreign exchange broker FairFX for the BBC.

“In reality they [bureaux] are ripping off the customer, who is effectively captive as they have nowhere else to buy their money at an airport,” said James Hickman, chief commercial officer at FairFX. “At most airports and terminals individual companies have a monopoly.

“They should be regulated as there is simply no justification for charging someone 14% [the average margin between the tourist and money market rates] to change their pounds to euros,” he added.

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The average tourist rate for the pound against the US dollar is also low. Currently, the average is $1.12 at UK airports, ranging from $1.05 at ICE at Norwich airport to $1.15 from Travelex at Heathrow Terminal 3.

Sterling has suffered a sharp decline in value against the world’s major currencies since the Brexit referendum.

Meanwhile, political tensions over the UK leaving Europe and the recent North Korean missile tests, have seen traders retreat to the euro ahead of sterling and the dollar.

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As a result, the £ will buy €1.086 on the currency markets – well down from the near €1.31 it commanded ahead of the referendum. There has been speculation that the pound will soon hit parity with the euro.

Pauline Maguire, Moneycorp’s retail director, blamed their poor rates on the associated costs of operating a bureaux at the airport – from rent to security.

Travel experts encourage holidaymakers to buy their currency in advance of their holiday to get the better rates, or to use preloaded currency cards while away.