EasyJet yesterday announced it was launching three more routes from Scottish airports, which it expects to carry around 34,000 holidaymakers this winter.
The budget airline is targeting winter sun-seekers and skiers with flights from Aberdeen to Geneva, Glasgow to Marrakech and from Edinburgh to Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
Ali Gayward, EasyJet’s head of Scotland, said: “As Scotland’s largest airline, we are pleased to further strengthen our network of easy and affordable destinations based on feedback from our passengers. We believe Marrakech and Funchal will prove popular winter sun destinations while Geneva offers access to the world class skiing resorts in France and Switzerland.”
The announcement follows recent figures showing the number of passengers flying with low-fare airlines increased last month despite the disruptive French air traffic control strike. EasyJet carried nearly 6.1 million passengers in June 2014 – a 10.1 per cent rise on the June 2013 total. Rival Ryanair also reported a year-on-year rise in passengers carried in June.
The group saw its off-season losses narrow this year, in part thanks to a growing popularity among cost-conscious business passengers.
EasyJet has already introduced four new routes to Scotland this year, including double daily connections between Inverness and London Gatwick and new links to Croatia and Greece from Glasgow.
It has also launched flights from Edinburgh to Bodrum in Turkey and Heraklion in Greece.
Gayward, pictured, said: “In total EasyJet now serves 33 destinations from Scotland, spanning Iceland [to] North Africa.
“The new routes will launch this winter and will complement our existing network of flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.”
The Aberdeen to Geneva service will be winter-only, but the other two new links will operate all year round. They are due to start in the autumn and winter.
Many of Easyjet’s rivals have also been increasing the range of destinations from Scotland. From Edinburgh alone, Jet2 launched a service to Verona in Italy and Swiss carrier Edelweiss added a flight to Zurich.
The new routes helped drive an increase in passenger numbers at Edinburgh airport, where international passenger numbers were up 5.7 per cent in May.
As well a European routes, several long-haul links directly to and from Scotland have also been launched this year.
Industry insiders said intercontinental routes to and from Edinburgh and Glasgow are becoming increasingly viable thanks to a new generation of highly efficient planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and a raft of offerings from Airbus.
Carriers are not only targeting Scots going abroad, but also the expected flood of tourists heading to Scotland for sporting and cultural events this year, including the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup being held at Gleneagles.