Leeds hails new airline, easyJet

UK-wide expansion of its winter programme continued at Leeds-Bradford Airport earlier this week, as the budget carrier moved to open a new base at the West Yorkshire hub, adding a new route to Geneva, Switzerland.

The airline’s Leeds base will “spark a low fares battle” with resident carriers, Ryanair and Jet2, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Despite its position as one of the largest airlines in the UK, offering routes from 17 British airports, easyJet has previously concentrated on Manchester, Robin Hood, and Newcastle airports in the North of England, allowing bitter rival, Ryanair, to have its way with Leeds-Bradford.

EasyJet’s Geneva route is currently the only flight offered by the carrier from Yeadon, but a spokesperson for the company intimated that strong sales could result in further expansions at Leeds Airport.

However, if easyJet wants to stay at Leeds-Bradford, the airline will have to provide a more attractive option than Jet2, which currently provides its own route to Geneva, operating five times a week.

Geneva, the second most populous city in Switzerland, after the capital, Zurich, is a popular skiing gateway, providing swift access to the resorts of Chamonix, Megève, Abondance, and Le Grand Bornard, among others.

A spokesperson for the airline, Ali Gayward, implied that easyJet’s purpose at Leeds was to cater to both business and leisure passengers, and tend to an “unfulfilled demand” for flights to Switzerland.

The carrier also indicated that there was no immediate need to compete with Jet2, as the number of passengers wanting to travel to Geneva from Leeds is sufficient to support both airlines.

Leeds boss, Tony Hallwood, was “very proud to welcome easyJet” to the Yeadon hub. “This announcement underpins Leeds Bradford’s position as one of the fastest-growing airports in the UK.”

EasyJet expects to carry 28,000 travellers on 182 flights between December 17 2010 and April 24 2011, when the Leeds-Geneva route officially ends.

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