Families continue to be “held to ransom” due to price hikes during school holidays, according to new analysis.

The cost of holidays to popular destinations rise by an average of 22% as schools break up for summer, with hikes of up to 73% to Majorca, the research by foreign currency firm FairFX found.

The company compared more than 350 packages based on a seven-night holiday in at least 4* hotels in Tenerife, Majorca, the Costa del Sol and the Algarve.

Packages were based on half board options from Tui, Thomas Cook and Jet2 and were all inclusive from First Choice.

Prices were gathered from seven regional airports for holidays departing the weekends of June 9, July 14, July 28 and August 4 or the nearest available day. One hotel per provider, per destination was used for the comparison.

Prices in Majorca rose by 30% on average, while the Algarve had the smallest increase at 16%.

All Inclusive specialist First Choice increased prices by 34% on average, compared to Thomas Cook with a 15% average rise.

Departures from Leeds Bradford were found to be the best value, with an average trip costing £2,367 compared to Cardiff at £3,252.

However, the single trip researched with the biggest rise was a seven-night half-board break with Tui at the Delphin Azul Hotel in Majorca departing from Leeds Bradford, which increased by more than £1,500 in price for a family of four departing on July 28 instead of July 14, the study found.

FairFX chief executive, Ian Strafford-Taylor, said: “Two years on from the historic case of Jon Platt it’s clear that parents are still very much being held to ransom when it comes to taking their families on holiday.

“There’s a clear supply and demand mechanic behind the pricing strategies surrounding school holidays, but the difference in prices is outrageous.

“A week away from home allows families to spend valuable time together, but when parents face paying over the odds of the original price, this experience is put under threat.”

He added: “Our latest investigation reveals that holidaymakers are still very much at the mercy of travel providers who are putting families in a difficult financial situation when it comes to taking their children on holiday outside of term time.

“Even those who are at liberty to travel during school term without incurring penalties are also vulnerable to price hikes.

“What’s more we’ve unearthed big differences between regional airports for the same package holidays departing on the same date. In some cases, the price increases are so high that holidaymakers may need to avoid their local airport in order to get a better deal.

“Consumers may want to price up their chosen trip from a range of airports before booking, as travelling a bit further in the car, or even having a night in a UK hotel to catch a morning flight could equate to big savings.

“Most people understand that supply and demand have some impact on price but operators seem intent on profiteering from family-time; holidaymakers have to do what they can to maximise their money such as buying currency when rates are good to off-set the rip-off being imposed by holiday firms.

“However, ultimately the fault lies with the travel industry, and while the price hikes may be marginally less this year than two years ago, they are still extortionate and much more needs to be done.”