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European low-fare carrier, easyJet is to introduce four new routes from its base at Brodeaux’s Mérignac Airport in its summer 2016 schedule as part of its expansion of its activities in the French market. The airline will increase its network to 20 destinations from the airport from next year with 16 year-round and four seasonal routes.
From the start of the Summer 2016 schedules on March 27, 2016, easyJet will introduce a new six times weekly domestic connection between Bordeaux and Marseille and a four times weekly link between Bordeaux and Berlin. A couple of weeks later a new four times weekly link from Bordeaux to Barcelona will be introduced from April 15, 2016, while a three times weekly service to Venice will follow on April 17, 2016.
The low-fare carrier has played an important role in Bordeaux Mérignac Airport reporting the highest rate of growth among the major regional airports. Over the first ten months of 2015 the airport has seen traffic rise 8.5 per cent, well ahead of the 3.8 per cent growth rate of French airports as a whole.
This growth has been achieved thanks to a sharp rise in international traffic (up 16.7 per cent) and in particular the activities of easyJet which has boosted its own traffic during the period by 14.5 per cent, carrying over one million passengers over the first ten months of 2015, a 43 per cent share of the airport’s total traffic.
easyJet will be the only carrier to offer flights between Bordeaux and Berlin, but will compete directly with Spanish low-cost carrier, Vueling on the route to Barcelona and Volotea on the link to Venice. On the local link to Marseille, easyJet will operate alongside the year-round multiple daily offering of Air France (operated since last month by Hop!).
Alongside the growth at Bordeaux, easyJet is to also grow its activities at both Toulouse Blagnac Airport and Nice Côte d'Azur International Airport. From May next year it will add three times weekly links from Toulouse to Berlin Schoenefeld and Faro, while from June it will introduce a four times weekly link to Milan Malpensa. From July 2016 more leisure oriented routes will commence from Toulouse to Dubrovnik (twice weekly), Mahon (twice weekly) and Olbia (twice weekly) and from Nice to Cagliari (twice weekly), Palma Mallorca (twice weekly) and Mykonos (weekly)
Elsewhere easyJet, is to introduce flights between its Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport base and Budapest. Lyon has been a highly-desired destination for the network team at Budapest for some time, and is currently the airport’s largest indirectly served destination in Europe.
The new three times weekly link will be launched from April 26, 2016 and will support a growing demand between the two cities for both business and leisure travellers. An estimated 18,000 passengers a year are currently flying indirectly between Budapest and Lyon and alongside market stimulation from a direct service could generate annual demand of around 40,000 passengers.
This was a former city pair market of the now defunct Hungarian national carrier, Malev and was flown using a Bombardier CRJ200 up until May 2008. Air France picked-up the route in June 2012 using a CRJ1000 and latterly flew it under the Hop! regional brand from April 2013 up until its suspension in November 2013.
“We’ve realised, and smashed, so many of our expectations and targets this year,” said Kam Jandu, Chief Commercial Officer, Budapest Airport highlighting what has been another strong year for Hungary’s largest air gateway as it continues to record more than double the European average in passenger traffic growth
Budapest Airport experienced an 11.3 per cent increase in October traffic, easily outstripping the European average of 5.1 per cent, and putting the Hungarian gateway on the brink of smashing the ten million passenger barrier for the first time ever.
“To bring our lobbying to fruition with the addition of easyJet’s new service is testament to the hard work and commitment. We were missing the heart of France from the direct routes available from Budapest so Lyon fits perfectly into our destination network,” added Jandu.
According to Sabre data, the Budapest – Lyon market is currently mainly supported by the indirect flows of Star Alliance operators. Lufthansa, through its mainline and CityLine operations, had the largest portion of traffic in 2014 with a 38.8 per cent share, followed by Brussels Airlines with an 18.7 per cent share.
easyJet first launched flights into France in August 1996 when it introduced a direct link from its London Luton base to Nice. The following year flights were added to the French city from Amsterdam and Liverpool and soon Nice became a key target city in its European network.
It was another eight years before easyJet expanded to other French cities with links to Paris (both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports) coming on line in 2002, including its first domestic route between Nice and Paris in June 2002 and new bases have subsequently followed.
The airline had a slow growth in international skies from France between 1996 and 2001 but since the country became more of a target market in 2002 it has witnessed steady year-on-year growth, according to schedule data from OAG.