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No brakes on spring breaks

Seasonal hiatus still on, but airlines might feel added turbulance

By Andrea Faiad

afaiad@postbulletin.com

The trips will go on. Spring breakers feel safe to travel.

Lynn Dosch plans to lead nine Rochester students to France for a 10-day trip, beginning Thursday.

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"As far as we know, our trip is still going forward unless the government says we can't travel," Dosch said. "I'm not at all concerned. I think we're probably as safe there as we are here."

The students -- from John Marshall, Mayo High School and St. John's Grade School -- will; stay with French families and attend a French high school in an exchange, that will bring a group of French students to Rochester from April 14 to 24. The American and French students already are e-mailing one another.

"In spite of all the articles about the French being mad at us, they're not, they don't agree with us but they like us," Dosch said. "We're pretty comfortable about the whole thing. None of my kids have said anything. This is a new thing, they haven't lived through war, so they don't know what to expect. But they're interested in talking about it. None of them have backed out of the trip because they're afraid of the war."

She also will lead more than 20 students on a three-week trip this summer. One family has indicated they might drop out if the United States goes to war with Iraq. Otherwise, plans are proceeding.

In fact, despite the war with Iraq, most people's spring break plans continue unaffected, according to local travel agents.

"The spring breakers are definitely going this year," said Mary Jo Follmuth, manager of Bursch Travel's Austin office.

Not many are going to Europe, but few usually do because it's more of a summer destination. Spring break hot spots remain, well, the hot spots in Florida, Texas, Mexico and the Caribbean as well as Las Vegas.

"Most of the families or individuals want to go some place with a beach, sit back and relax, do some sight-seeing," Follmuth said.

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Europe is proving to be a tougher summer sell than in previous years, but that has as much to do with the economy as the war.

"A lot of people are calling and thinking that because of the way things are right now, that airline prices are very low, which is not true," said Amy Paulson, manager for Fun Travel travel agency in Rochester. "With gas prices going up and the airlines hurting so badly with money rates and things that, airfare is pretty high. Airlines have lost a lot of money and they're still taking quite a hit.

With a war, "they will be hit even harder, so they haven't done a lot of discounting this year compared to prior years," she added.

Northwest Airlines CEO Richard Anderson warned Tuesday that the airline will further reduce staff and scheduled flights.

"It is not something any of us want to do, myself in particular," he told the Associated Press. "But it is the only choice we have as demand, particularly internationally, (falls)."

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