JLA is a ‘key hub,’ says easyJet

Budget airline, easyJet, has rubbished claims that an expansion by the carrier at Manchester Airport will affect the number of routes available from its base at Liverpool John Lennon (JLA) Airport.

The orange and white carrier is due to begin running flights from Manchester to Hamburg, Germany, on November 26, less than a month after it added a new route to Amsterdam from the Ringway hub, and to Gothenburg, Sweden, on December 10 2010. From Liverpool, easyJet will fly to three new destinations from February 7 2011, Salzburg in Austria, the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, and Brussels, Belgium.

Everything seems equal on the surface, but it appears that Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s new chief executive, wants to pursue ‘’further’’ expansion at Manchester in 2011, beyond adding extra routes over the winter season. What this expansion entails exactly has not been made explicit, but one could speculate that Ms McCall wants easyJet’s presence at Manchester to rival that at Gatwick and London Luton, two of the airline’s larger hubs.

The announcement was made as part of a company review conducted by the CEO, following on from easyJet’s 2009/2010 financial report, in which the airline made a pre-tax profit of £154m, including all costs incurred from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull earlier this year. EasyJet referred to growth over the past 12 months as “flat.”

Whether easyJet’s pledge to support its Liverpool operation was an afterthought or a carefully devised plan may never be known, but JLA’s concerns struck a chord with the airline; easyJet has since unveiled a new route from Liverpool Airport to the UK’s last bastion on the Iberian Peninsula, Gibraltar.

EasyJet currently offers 32 routes from the northwest, including Faro in Portugal and the Channel Island of Jersey. “We have a very strong, committed community of passengers who will always fly from Liverpool,” Carolyn McCall said. “Manchester’s growth won’t be at Liverpool’s expense.”

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