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easyJet expands in Manchester

Jonathan Schofield chats to the boss of Manchester Airport and the UK director of easyJet - there's a video too

Written by . Published on June 3rd 2011.


easyJet expands in Manchester

easyJet is expanding at Manchester Airport.

UK Director of easyJet Paul Simmons told Confidential: “We are taking the number of planes we have at Manchester up from five to seven. We’ve been underserving the airport here and this is good news for us and Manchester. It expands the low-cost proposition and increases employment.  We see this as part of the framework for growth at this site.”

Andrew Harrison, Manchester Airport’s Managing Director, told Confidential, “We’ve gone from zero easyJet planes to seven in four years. From no passengers flying from Manchester through the airline to 1.3m. This is a market sector we should be better represented in. It will get us over the  19m passengers a year flying out of Manchester again. We made a historical decision which meant we didn’t exploit this market as we should have done in the past, we’re now correcting that, it’s exciting news.”

Both Harrison and Simmons can spot one horrible dirty cloud on the horizon. This is the proposed increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) by the government.

Seven planes is fine but to put this in context it is only a small step on the path to growing easyJet’s operation from Manchester. Liverpool has ten planes based there, Gatwick has 47.

Still this is good news. A few years ago passenger numbers were over 21m. Then the economy crashed, the domestic and charter market was hit hard and it became clear the Airport had made the wrong decision in not encouraging low-cost operators.

Andrew Harrison says: “There were a number of factors in the decline in numbers using the airport. The general economy of course, but other less expected ones too. The domestic flight market was hit as the train service improved for instance. Today though the price of train travel has risen dramatically so we’re seeing domestic volumes grow while charter flights have shown a strong recovery and we’re doing good business in the long haul market too.”

Both Harrison and Simmons can spot one horrible dirty cloud on the horizon. This is the proposed increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) by the government.

“We make £3.50 a seat on our flights,” says Simmons. “We trade profitably, but the margins are low. The APD proposals would mean the average family according to our figures would pay £60 rather than £15 in duty. It’s a straight tax on people and will hit the lowest incomes the hardest.”

Harrison nods in agreement, “The APD will also hit the North harder than the South, the regions here have lower incomes than the South East, it’s an unfair tax that hits the least able to pay. At the same time the government will earn more in tax from Manchester than we do in airport fees. It’s upside-down.”

Manchester Airport is a flagship for the region, a point of pride for Mancs and part of a heritage of forward thinking that spans 200 years.  It’s now the largest municipally owned commercial business in the country – owned by Manchester City Council and the other nine boroughs of Greater Manchester.

easyJet’s modest expansion is another sign that the Airport has turned a corner.

YOU CAN VIEW A SHORT VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH PAUL SIMMONS AND ANDREW HARRISON HERE - courtesy of Paul Knowles

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VampcullenJune 3rd 2011.

Good on Easyjet for having a go at the proposed APD hikes, yet another stealth tax. How about a link to the petition site Ed? http://www.taxplanesnotpeople.com/
If people don't fly, the airline pulls planes and routes and ultimately leads to loss of jobs damaging the economy even further....

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