EasyJet vows to expand in France as demand flies high

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.

EasyJet vows to expand in France as demand flies high
Photo: AFP

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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EasyJet to open 15 new routes from French airports

British budget airline easyJet will continue to expand its presence in France next year after announcing the launch of 15 new routes.

EasyJet to open 15 new routes from French airports
The airline, which already runs 230 routes to, from and within France, will operate seven new services from Bordeaux in the south west, four from the central city of Lyon and four from the Riviera city of Nice.
Among the new destinations will be Tel Aviv in Israel, which will be served by new flights from all three cities. EasyJet will also introduce a Lyon to Rennes service in the hope of attracting business customers. 
While France is easyJet's second biggest market after the UK, in terms of the number of routes, the company sees enormous potential.
François Baccheta, director general of easyJet France says the country is “under-served in terms of connectivity”.
“France is a key market for easyJet and we are committed to offering our French passengers a wide choice of destinations,” said Baccheta.
“We are also continuing to strengthen our regional roots with the opening of the Bordeaux base and the arrival of a new aircraft in Nice. These investments are intended to meet growing regional demand and boost the attractiveness of France and its regions internationally.”
In France the low cost market represents around 30 percent of all short and medium haul flights compared to the European average of 47 percent. So easyJet senses an opportunity to expand.
Here is a full list of the new routes:
From Bordeaux: Bastia (Corsica), Catania (Sicily), Faro (Portugal), Heraklion (Crete, Greece), Luxembourg, Tel Aviv and London Southend.
From Lyon: Corfu, (Greece) Fuertaventura (Canary islands, Spain), Rennes and Tel Aviv.
From Nice: Biarritz, Catania, Seville and Tel Aviv.
Th new routes will see easyJet increase its capacity by 7 percent in 2018 – an increase of 1.1 million passengers. The airline currently carries around 18.8 million passengers in France and has expanded rapidly in recent years.
In December last year the airline made a similar move announcing 16 new routes in 2017 following on from 36 new routes in 2016.