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EasyJet vows to expand in France as demand flies high

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EasyJet vows to expand in France as demand flies high
Photo: AFP
13:17 CET+01:00
UK budget airline easyJet will continue to expand its services in France next year thanks to the resilience of demand even in spite of the terror attacks and the prospect of Brexit.

The head of easyJet France said on Monday that it would place two more planes on French soil next year and create 72 jobs in the process.

But Director General of easyJet France François Bacchetta declined to comment about the routes on which the new planes would operate.

The British company currently has five bases around France: Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris (15 planes), Lyon (7 planes), Nice (three planes) and Toulouse (three planes).

In all the company can count some 1,000 workers on its books in France.

One out of every five easyJet passengers takes off or lands in France and more than 10 percent of the company's fleet is based in France, the company said.

Whereas Air France reported dramatic losses due to the terror attacks in Paris and Nice, Bacchetta said demand for seats on easyJet flights remains steady.

“Fundamentally the market in France is resilient,” he said.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall told Les Echos newspaper: "The Paris and Nice attacks sent demand sharply lower at first, but when you stimulate that demand by cutting prices, which is what we have done, that (demand) recovers quickly.”

EasyJet's capacity increased by 9 percent in France this year, compared to 5 percent in 2015. But Bacchetta said low-cost companies were lagging behind when it came to penetrating the short and medium haul market in France compared to other European countries.

EasyJet warned earlier this summer that it would seek to obtain an air operator's certificate for another EU country as part of the contingency planning in the event of Brexit.

That would mean it could keep its headquarters in the UK and continue to fly in Europe.

But the company said the referendum result in the UK had hit sales.

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