It is called the “misery route”, but now Oxford and Cambridge dons who travel between the two university cities have been offered a way to avoid traffic jams and late trains: take an aircraft.
Charter flights between Oxford and Cambridge — nicknamed “Don Air” — start this week and will cut the journey time to 20 minutes, compared with up to three hours by car or train.
Air fares will range from £100 to £150 return, compared with £70 for a standard rail return and £120 for first class, but many travellers will save overall because they will not have to pay for extra meals and overnight stays.
Scores of academics, businessmen and students travel between the cities — 65 miles apart as the crow flies, but up to 118 miles by road — but most have to endure gridlock on the M25 or a gruelling train journey with two changes in London.
The flights, in four, seven and eight-seater aircraft, have been organised by managers at Oxford airport who said that they had received many inquiries and were confident that the charters would prove popular.
James Dillon-Godfrey, the business development manager, said: “The journey between Oxford and Cambridge is a nightmare. A 20-minute flight means people will be able to attend morning meetings and be back in time for lunch.”
Academics welcomed the prospect of a fast route to “the other place”. A senior Oxford don who travels regularly to Cambridge said: “I would certainly take the plane. It’s a bit more expensive than the train but would save time and a lot of stress caused by our terrible transport system.”
Aside from its usefulness to academics and business travellers, the air link would enable tourists to see both cities in a day.