Scotland’s biggest airline is poised to expand at Glasgow Airport in stark contrast to rival Ryanair, which is to close its base there because air taxes have not been cut.
EasyJet plans new routes from Glasgow to help “redress the balance” with Edinburgh, its UK country manager has told The Scotsman.
Ali Gayward said: “Glasgow is a really important strategic base for us.”
Four EasyJet aircraft are based at Glasgow, but Ms Gayward said the scale of its operations there – on 19 routes – was the equivalent of eight aircraft’s worth of flying.
The airline has eight aircraft based in Edinburgh, where it has 41 routes.
Ms Gayward said: “We are keen to see what we can do to redress the balance across Scotland.
“I would like us to do more flying from Glasgow. We expect to announce some new destinations this winter.”
She said only limited expansion was initially possible because of the lack of available new aircraft, but there would be “more opportunity” in two years’ time.
Ryanair announced in February it would cut its Glasgow routes from 17 to three this winter, blaming the Scottish Government’s failure to halve the UK’s air passenger duty (APD). Its single Glasgow-based aircraft will be switched to Edinburgh.
Ministers had planned to replace APD last month with an air departure tax of £6.50 per passenger on short-haul flights from Scottish airports, compared with £13 APD.
However, finance secretary Derek Mackay said last October the Scottish Government needed to secure continued tax exemption for Inverness Airport from the European Commission.
Ryanair chief commercial officer David O’Brien said in February: “Ryanair regrets these cuts in the weaker Glasgow market where efforts to stimulate low fare demand are severely hampered by the continuing burden of APD.”
Aviation analyst John Strickland of JLS Consulting said: “The Edinburgh market is certainly the stronger one from an airline viewpoint, but that can, on occasion, lead to oversupply.
“Glasgow also presents many opportunities of its own, so I’m not surprised EasyJet is looking to make the most of both markets.”