EasyJet looks to expand services from Belfast

Low fares airline EasyJet has announced that it plans to build on its existing routes from Belfast to London after posting a healthy increase in profits.

EasyJet’s preliminary results for the year ended 30 September 2001 show pre-tax profits rose 82 per cent to £40.1 million and revenues were up 35 per cent to £356.9 million.

Chief Executive Ray Webster said its Northern Ireland operations had been a major contributor to EasyJet’s success. Last year the carrier more than doubled the number of seats out of Belfast to 37,000 per week in the past 12 months by introducing two new domestic and one international route.

Mr Webster said: “We believe EasyJet is in a strong position to capitalise on the downsizing of other carriers’ networks. While some other airlines are announcing job losses and fleet capacity reductions, we look forward to hiring additional staff to deliver planned growth.”

However he added: “These are still very early days since the New York and Washington attacks, and all airlines are till learning about the changed European environment. We are cautiously optimistic about the trading environment, and believe that our business model is robust and able to operate within whatever security regime exists in Europe.”

The airline is reported to be looking into expanding its services from Belfast to London Heathrow, Paris Orly, Glasgow and Luton.

The company also announced that it plans to issue shares to raise £90 million in order to fund new routes. EasyJet chairman Stelios Haji-Ioannou also plans to reduce his stake in the firm by selling 13 million shares, thought to be worth around £40 million. (AMcE)

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