EasyJet looks to open new French bases

Kasmira Jefford
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LOW-COST carrier easyJet has unveiled plans to open two new bases in France next year, stepping up the competition with the nation’s flagship carrier Air France-KLM.

EasyJet announced yesterday it will add two Airbus 319 aircraft in Nice and Toulouse airports, bringing the airline’s number of French bases to five – with the other three being Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris and Lyon.

The move comes just months after Air France announced it would “launch the offensive” against budget airlines and operate a regional low-cost model to claw back 4m customers.

The French airline opened a base in Marseille earlier this month and plans to offer flights from other cities including Nice and Toulouse, but is still in negotiations with the unions.

EasyJet grew its capacity in France by 22 per cent last year compared to wider market growth of one per cent, according to its annual report. The airline added that it had taken advantage of Air France cutting its capacity on routes such as Madrid and Barcelona.

“France is a strategic market for easyJet, where the airline – already the country’s second largest – clearly has room to grow,” Catherine Lynn, easyJet’s customer and revenue director, said in a statement.

EasyJet’s passenger numbers rose 8.5 per cent in September compared to last year, it also said yesterday. Its load factor rose 0.3 percentage points to 89.6 per cent.