Andy Harrison, easyJet’s Chief Executive, has officially opened the airline’s 19th base at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, with an inauguration ceremony held in front of the Eiffel Tower (see picture) in the presence of the French Minister for tourism and consumption, Luc Chatel.The new base at France’s most important airport is part of a £600m investment over a four-year-period that will strengthen easyJet’s position as the second largest airline in France. The investment will enable easyJet to increase its fleet in France from 6 based aircraft to 20 and to double the number of passengers from 6 million in 2007 to 12 million in 2011.
Initially three brand-new Airbus A319 aircraft will be based at Charles de Gaulle Airport, an investment of £120 million which will create around 120 jobs for pilots and cabin crews. In addition to 11 existing routes at Charles de Gaulle, easyJet launches six new routes to Hamburg, Krakow, Venice, Biarritz, Porto and Marrakesh.
With two bases in Paris, easyJet will offer 28 routes to domestic, European and North African destinations from the French capital, where 4 million passengers are expected this year.
On 4 April, easyJet will launch its third base in France in Lyon, the country’s second most important economic centre, and will become the first low-fares airline to offer French domestic flights outside of Paris. The decision to open two bases in France within a two-month-period underlines France’s importance as one of the key growth markets for easyJet.
easyJet already operates 50 routes from 14 airports across the country (Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Lyon, Grenoble, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Biarritz, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Montpellier, Nantes, Bastia and Ajaccio). In the first half of this year, a further 23 routes will be launched.
At a press conference in Paris today, Andy Harrison, easyJet’s Chief Executive, commented:
“easyJet’s unique combination of low fares, care and convenience has proven to be very popular in France over the last 12 years, and there is a strong desire among consumers for more choice. With a lost-cost penetration that is half the European average, France’s air transport market still suffers from a lack of affordable, direct air links and therefore offers huge opportunities for easyJet.
Today’s event is a vital first step in our major investment that will see us double our presence in France by 2011 as we seek to bring the benefits of easyJet to France’s air travellers and its wider society. We will be employing French people and flying French passengers from France’s major airports on aircraft from Toulouse-based Airbus. No wonder we consider ourselves as the best French alternative to Air France.
easyJet is currently France’s second largest airline with a 6% market share. Air France currently controls 55% of the market.