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Easyjet steps up pressure on Air France

Easyjet is stepping up the pressure on Air France-KLM in its home Gallic territory after it announced a major expansion of its operations including two new bases for its airplanes.

The budget airline will start 13 new routes and will base three jets at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and two at Lyon’s Saint-Exupery.

Easyjet expects to carry more than 6 million fliers through French airports in 2007. The new bases could add a further 2 million to its traffic by 2008.

Full statement

easyJet announces massive expansion in two new French bases
easyJet, Europe’s leading low-fares airline, today announced a massive expansion in France that reinforces its position as France’s only significant low-cost airline and the country’s second largest carrier.


The airline will open its 18th and 19th bases at Paris Charles de Gaulle and at Lyon airports in spring 2008, a decision that reflects easyJet’s strategy of flying from major airports in the major European markets.

easyJet will initially base five additional aircraft in France - three in Paris and two in Lyon - operating a total of 13 routes and creating hundreds of jobs for pilots, cabin crew and associated support services. The airline anticipates that it will carry over 6 million passengers through French airports in 2007 and a further 2 million in 2008 due to the opening of the new bases.

Today’s announcement is part of clear long-term growth strategy for France, which includes a €600m investment over a four-year-period. By 2011, the airline plans to have 20 based aircraft and to carry 12 million passengers. By that time, easyJet will operate over 80 routes in and out of France and will directly employ almost 1,000 people.

Three brand-new A319, manufactured by Toulouse-based Airbus, will be based in Paris-Charles de Gaulle from February 2008 to complement easyJet’s existing six aircraft at Paris Orly. The opening of the Charles de Gaulle base will enable easyJet to initially launch six additional domestic and international routes (Biarritz, Oporto, Venice, Marrakech, Hamburg and Krakow) at France’s main airport and to strengthen easyJet’s position in the French capital.

easyJet’s second new base in France will be launched at Lyon’s Saint-Exupéry Airport. Initially two Airbus A319 will arrive in France’s second largest city from April 2008 to operate seven domestic and international routes (Bordeaux, Toulouse, Casablanca, Marrakech, Venice, Porto and Lisbon).

Thanks to the new Lyon base, easyJet will become the first low-fares airline to offer French domestic routes out of regional airports which are vital for economic growth in these regions.

Over the past few years, France has become an increasingly important market for easyJet. The airline already offers 50 routes in France and as much as 40 daily flights to and from Paris. However, with a lost cost penetration of 17% at half the European average (33%), France’s air transport market still suffers from a lack of affordable, direct air links and therefore offers huge opportunities for easyJet.

Speaking at a press conference in Lyon today, Andy Harrison, Chief Executive of easyJet, said:

“Today’s announcement is just the 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 France’s own low-cost airline.”

easyJet already operates eleven routes from Charles de Gaulle to the UK, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal as well as Nice. From Lyon, five routes to London, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome will be served this winter.