Airline to expand Leeds Bradford schedule

BUDGET airline Ryanair is to expand its schedule at Leeds Bradford Airport, travelling to six new destinations and bringing in extra passengers to the region.

Yesterday the Irish carrier announced it would now operate three aircraft on 26 routes at the airport, including new routes to and from to Chania, in Crete, Corfu, Dinard, in Northern France, Kos, Milan Bergamo and Tenerife, in an expansion that should see Ryanair’s traffic at Leeds Bradford grow to over 900,000 passengers a year.

The airline also announced it will extend its routes to Kaunas, in Lithuania and Riga, in Latvia, to its summer 2012 schedule.

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Yesterday Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said the expansion would bolster the local economy.

He said: “Next year, it means Ryanair will grow its traffic by another quarter of a million passengers, probably about another 100,000 inbound visitors for Yorkshire, and we expect those visitors will spend something of the order of about £3m here in the local economy just next summer.

“It also means that by basing a third aircraft here from into next winter there’s more routes, more year-round destinations, which helps the airport spread the business instead of just having a big summer peak.”

Mr O’Leary said the expansion plans would create around 60 jobs at Ryanair, with new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineers to service the third aircraft. He said in addition another quarter of a million passengers will add around 250 jobs at the airport.

John Parkin, chief executive of the airport said: “This is not just about taking people out of the region and sending them off to sunny spots, this is about linking Leeds Bradford with the rest of Europe and the rest of Europe coming in.”

He said that visitors to Yorkshire would spend cash in the region and would help local businesses He added that the expansion would have “knock-on ripple effects” in terms of employment opportunities in catering, security and ground handling at the airport.

Mr O’Leary said he may expand further in future and base a fourth aircraft at Leeds Bradford - but he said to do this the Government would have to cut its air passenger duty.

To celebrate its expansion, Ryanair has released 500,000 seats from £9.99. Tickets for its new routes go on sale today.