Czech this out! Prague is the newest destination from Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Czech Airlines are introducing a new twice weekly flight to Prague from Liverpool John Lennon Airport, which will operate on Fridays and Mondays.

The new service is expected to start on May 18 and will fly all year round. It is believed the new service will be a hit with weekend break travellers and business customers.

Prague, a beautiful city with stunning architecture and fantastic locally brewed beers, is the capital city of the Czech Republic, and is a popular destination for hen and stag parties.

JLA hopes for busiest year since 2008

When compared to the same three months last year, Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) experienced a 5.6% slump in passenger numbers during the first quarter of 2011. However, the fall, attributed to lower flight capacity over the winter months, has not dampened the spirits of airport chiefs in the northwest; in fact, Robin Tudor, a spokesman for JLA, expects 2011 to be the most profitable year since 2008.

Mr. Tudor told the Liverpool Daily Post that the airport is anticipating an overall passenger boost of 3% for 2011, “which, in the current difficult economic climate, would be good news”. The projected increase, which will create an annual total of 5.25m people, will fall just short of the record set in 2007, when 5.47m passed through the airport’s doors. The following year, 2008, saw Liverpool’s fortunes turn sour, as the recession bit into travellers’ wallets.

JLA’s summer schedule for 2011 includes new easyJet routes to Brussels in Belgium, Tallinn in Estonia, and to Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula. The airline’s rival, Ryanair, has also added flights from JLA to Toulon in France, and to the islands of Kos and Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. EasyJet now operates 32 flights from JLA, compared to Ryanair’s 49. Mr. Tudor noted that several “existing routes” from Merseyside would enjoy increased capacity throughout the warmer months.

With eight months of 2011 remaining on the calendar, JLA’s future is yet to be written. However, Mr. Tudor’s optimism can do little to change the fact that JLA may not be able to return to pre-recession passenger levels until the end of 2012, at the earliest.

New Ryanair routes from April

From April 2011, Ryanair will begin flying from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) to the islands of Kos and Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. The new routes are part of a ‘Greek invasion’ by the Irish carrier, which will see flights to southwestern Europe added at 13 airports served by Ryanair.

Kos, which is situated a few miles from the coast of Bodrum, Turkey, will be served twice a week from April 13. The island has two personalities, according to Thomson. Kos is an idyllic ‘sun and sun’ destination, much like neighbouring Rhodes, but the bright lights on the coast belie a rural heartland: “think deserted hamlets and whitewashed villages dotted across wooded hills”, explains the airline’s destination guide.

Flights from JLA to Rhodes will begin on April 14. The island, alongside Patmos, Arkoi, and Kos, is a member of the Dodecanese, an umbrella term for the 12 largest islands in the southeastern Aegean. Rhodes is the former home of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus, which straddled the entrance to Mandraki Harbour until the giant was felled by an earthquake in 226BC.

Tickets for the two routes begin at £37.99 for a one-way journey with all taxes included. Planes bound for Kos will depart every Wednesday and Sunday, while Rhodes will be served on Mondays and Thursdays. The additions will help cement Ryanair’s position as the largest carrier by passenger numbers at JLA, and strike a blow to rival airline, easyJet, which is currently the only airline to offer routes to Rhodes from Liverpool.

Ryanair will travel to 40 destinations from JLA this summer. However, the frequency of Ryanair flights from Liverpool to Girona Airport in Spain will be reduced from the end of February 2011. The airline has cut or cancelled flights from Girona to 35 destinations, after the local government in Spain reneged on plans to allow Ryanair to expand at the Costa Brava hub.

Forty passengers ‘miss flights’ at JLA

Officials at Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) are trying to discover how tens of travellers missed their flights over the New Year period. Budget airline easyJet, says that around 40 people had to wait two hours to get through security after “huge queues” developed at checkpoints.

Whilst JLA bosses have absolved themselves of responsibility, the airport’s spokesman, Robin Tudor, said that an investigation would be launched into the chaos. Tudor noted that traveller tailbacks had begun at check-in desks and snowballed as large numbers of people were funnelled through security at the same time.

However, the immediate cause of the queues is unknown, as all machines and computers were functioning as normal, and the airport had the usual number of staff members reporting for duty. Strangely, resident airlines such as easyJet and KLM experienced no problems save for the absence of a few passengers.

“We had to hold some flights but we could not hold them forever, so we missed some passengers,” an easyJet spokeswoman told the Liverpool Daily Post. “There were a lot of very annoyed people.”

The airline said that travellers who had found themselves marooned between check-in and security were put onto the next available plane out of JLA.

Despite the mystery surrounding the incident, officials seem to want to place the blame with handling agents, who are contracted to perform services at the airport but are not employed by JLA. Whatever the cause, security officials at the northwest hub were lumbered with twice the expected number of passengers, enough to fluster even the burliest of border guards.

JLA could ‘finish year in top 10’

Despite having the third largest urban area in the country, the city of Liverpool has an airport that is routinely placed only eleventh or twelfth in lists of the UK’s most popular hubs, pipped to the post by airports in smaller cities, such as Bristol and Luton.

However, bosses at Liverpool John Lennon (JLA) are hoping that the hub’s performance in 2010 is enough to shunt the airport up the league tables.

RDC Aviation, a supplier of “business intelligence” to the aviation industry, indicates that JLA achieved the second highest rise in passenger traffic in the UK during the three quarters to October.

First place, Belfast City, attracted an extra 221,000 people in the first nine months of 2010, compared to 208,000 at Liverpool. The rise is particularly significant, given that only 12 of 50 British airports have achieved growth this year.

Year-end figures are unlikely to be made public until the beginning of 2011, but an educated guess would place JLA’s total traffic for 2010 in the region of 5.1 – 5.3m.

Passenger numbers reached “record levels” in October, according to the Liverpool Daily Post, but the northwest hub is unlikely to match the success of 2007, when JLA recorded annual traffic figures in excess of 5.47m.

Craig Richmond, CEO at Peel Airports, indicated that new routes from easyJet and Ryanair were responsible for the increase in travellers, but warned against complacency in the face of the coming winter. “In terms of passenger numbers, yes, this was a good summer, but the winter period will undoubtedly be difficult for all in the aviation industry.”

Liverpool’s links to Belfast are some of the most popular domestic routes in the UK, with flights to Malaga and Alicante in Spain, and Dublin in Ireland, also performing well. Peel Airports say that JLA has “great potential” to become an important regional airport.

Ryanair is top dog at JLA

Michael O’Leary’s airline, Ryanair, is once again the largest carrier at Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA), after reclaiming the title from Luton-based airline, easyJet. The blue and yellow carrier has reported consistent growth at JLA throughout the year, even despite the harmful effects of the Volcanic Ash Crisis.

EasyJet and Ryanair are almost as synonymous with UK aviation as aeroplanes, runways, and noise-blight compensation schemes. The two airlines gained fame (and indeed, infamy) in very different ways. EasyJet featured on the docu-soap, Airline, whilst Ryanair has a shameless leader in Michael O’Leary, well known for his foul-mouthed tirades.

As the pair competes against each other at many UK airports, the two airlines quickly became bitter rivals, and their frequent, melodramatic squabbles make for interesting (and sometimes hilarious) reading.

News that Ryanair has trumped easyJet at JLA will no doubt make O’Leary’s Christmas lights shine a little brighter this December. However, the fortunes of both airlines were very different at the beginning of 2010, with easyJet achieving growth of 14.1% at JLA in quarter one, compared to 9.1% at Ryanair.

The Volcanic Ash Crisis proved to be a blessing in disguise for Ryanair in quarter two, as its orange opponent lost a depressing 12.9% of its passengers. Ryanair, on the other hand, remained stoic, reporting growth of 4%. O’Leary’s airline went on to transport a record-breaking 267,413 travellers in August, the highest ever recorded at JLA.

August’s figures topped off a productive third quarter for Ryanair, and a miserable one for easyJet. The former helped an extra 20.4% of passengers reach their destinations between July and September, whilst the latter stumbled to a 4.5% decline in traffic at JLA during the same period. In total, Ryanair has sold 2,084,625 tickets for its flights out of Liverpool in 2010, compared to sales of 1,954,839 at easyJet.

Robin Tudor, spokesman for JLA, said that Ryanair has “performed well,” but there are “challenging months ahead” for everybody involved with Liverpool Airport. “We continue to remain optimistic,” Robin said.

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.”

Northwest gets Tallinn link

Budget carrier, easyJet has added an eclectic trio of destinations to its winter schedules at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

The airline, which is famed for its orange and white aeroplanes, as well as its long-standing rivalry with Ryanair, will begin flying from the northwest to Brussels in Belgium, Salzburg in Austria, and the Estonian capital, Tallinn, from 2011.

EasyJet now has 32 routes available from Liverpool, including popular holiday destinations, Berlin in Germany, and Alicante in Spain.

Commercial Manager at easyJet, Ali Gayward, claims that the airline’s latest additions will attract the “full range of passengers,” from business executives and winter sports fans, to “holidaymakers seeking exciting new destinations.”

Flights to Tallinn, located in the north of Estonia, will begin on April 26 2011. The route will operate three times a week from Liverpool, priced at £27.99, one way. Tallinn is a curious amalgam of both new and old structures, with buildings from the Roman and Russian Empires (such as the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral) standing in the shadow of skyscrapers. The city is easyJet’s most northerly destination from Liverpool, and has the second highest latitude of all easyJet routes to Europe, after Helsinki, Finland.

Brussels, a city that needs no introduction, will be accessible from Liverpool from February 7 2011. Tickets, which went on sale on October 7, cost in the region of £23.99. The route will operate six times a week, despite being something of an experiment for the budget carrier: the flight is the first time that easyJet has offered a connection between the Belgian city and a UK airport.

Completing the trio, flights to Salzburg in Austria, a very popular location during the winter months, will begin on December 17 2010. The destination is one of three ski routes being sold by easyJet from Liverpool this winter, after Grenoble and Lyon in France. Liverpool-Salzburg will operate once a week, costing £25.99 for a one-way journey.

EasyJet heads for France

The French city Grenoble, also known as the ‘Capital of the Alps’, is the latest addition to easyJet’s list of flights out of Liverpool John Lennon. The route is the airline’s 29th from the airport, making it the largest carrier on the premises in terms of the number of passengers handled.

The new route, which begins on January 8 2011, is likely to become a key product during the winter ski season as Grenoble is situated in one of the most popular skiing areas in France, close to the resorts of Chamonix, Brides-les-Bains and Les Deux Alps.

easyJet will also put on flights from Liverpool to Lyon in France from December 18 2010, and supplement its existing Liverpool-Belfast International route with up to five extra flights per week from December 3.

The airline’s commercial manager, Ali Gayward, claims that the additional flight to Belfast International will help travellers who have had their travel plans thwarted by Ryanair’s sudden exodus from nearby Belfast City Airport.

Commenting on the new route to Grenoble, Liverpool’s manager of corporate affairs, Robin Tudor, referred to the French city as a “great destination” which “compliments easyJet’s range of winter sun and ski flights” from Liverpool.

Grenoble has an ancient and illustrious history stretching back over 2,000 years. The city was the site of the X Winter Olympic Games in 1968, highlighting its links to snow sports, and has an impressive fortress within its midst – La Bastille, built in the 16th century to repel invaders travelling through the Chartreuse Mountains.

Today, Grenoble is a centre for science and education, as well as a haven for skiers and snowboarders.

Ryanair unveils Oslo-Rygge route

Budget carrier, Ryanair, has unveiled a new route from Liverpool John Lennon to Moss Airport in Rygge, Norway. The flight, which will operate twice a week from the 5 November, is designed to work in tandem with an existing route from Liverpool to Sandefjord Airport, better known as Oslo Torp.

Despite flagging profits in the wake of the ash crisis, and extensive cutbacks to its winter flights, Ryanair continues to add routes at select airports, including Leeds-Bradford, Edinburgh, and now, Liverpool. The airline offers 45 destinations from John Lennon Airport, including routes to Bremen, Germany, and Carcassonne in France.

Liverpool’s PR chief, Robin Tudor, claims that Liverpool is growing in popularity with Nordic football fans – ‘Norway is a popular destination with English holidaymakers, especially for winter breaks, but just as important are the numbers of Norwegians travelling over to see their favourite Premier League team.’

Moss Airport is located 5km from the village of Rygge, which is in turn located 67km from the Norwegian capital, Oslo. The airport’s alternative name, Oslo-Rygge, is therefore, somewhat misleading. Rygge is located on the banks of the Oslofjord, which offers both boating and sightseeing opportunities.

Tickets for the Liverpool-Rygge route begin at £23.99 for a one-way trip, excluding Ryanair’s array of taxes and baggage fees. The trip departs Liverpool on Fridays and Sundays, but travellers may have trouble booking a return flight until the 1 September, when the route officially begins. As matters stand at the moment it seems that only one way tickets from Liverpool can be bought.