23/03/2004

Easyjet expansion to create 200 new jobs

Up to 200 new jobs are set to be created following an announcement that easyjet is to introduce four new routes from Belfast International Airport to Europe.

The new routes, Alicante, Malaga, Nice and Paris, are a direct result of the Air Route Development Scheme, the Northern Ireland Authorities initiative to improve the provision of air services in the province. In addition, easyJet is also increasing the three daily services between Gatwick and Belfast to four.

Enterprise Minister, Ian Pearson said he was delighted by the news. "This is very good news for Northern Ireland. Improved access to overseas customers and international markets will enhance business competitiveness locally. It is expected that well over two hundred new jobs will be created in the aviation industry locally as a result of this investment, which is also most welcome.”

Commenting on the benefits for tourism, Mr Pearson said: “The Paris and Nice services will connect Northern Ireland to the two largest conurbations in France. More tourism means more demand in the local market, especially in the hospitality sector. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board working with Tourism Ireland, will seek to capitalise on this further opportunity to attract more business and leisure travellers to our shores. I am confident that we will not only match but exceed the expectations of visitors from France and beyond.”

Ray Webster, easyJet Chief Executive added: "We are delighted that the Government has shown such proactive support to the airline industry. The introduction of this initiative means that consumers in Northern Ireland now have more opportunities to travel throughout Europe at easyjet's fantastic low fares, and there will be great benefits to the local economy as increasing numbers of Europeans travel to Belfast as a destination."

The new routes to Paris (Charles De Gaulle) will be on a daily basis initially, but have the potential to grow to twice daily. The Nice service is expected to be five times during the summer period, reducing to four times per week in the winter season.

Two further routes to Malaga and Alicante are mainly concerned with outbound tourism and thus do not qualify under the Air Route Development Scheme.

Today's expansion from easyJet's Northern Ireland base will increase the number of routes offered by around 50%, with a total of 13 destinations now available.

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