Scotland business

EasyJet 'rides storm' of uncertainty with Scottish expansion

EasyJet plane Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption EasyJet's launched its first service from Luton to Glasgow almost a quarter of a century ago

EasyJet has said it is ready to "ride the storm" of uncertainty hitting the aviation industry by expanding in Scotland.

The budget airline has added a fifth plane to its Glasgow Airport-based fleet.

It said the expansion would mean an extra 340,000 passengers and 50 new jobs as it announced a new Glasgow to Birmingham route.

The company said it planned further announcements in the coming weeks.

EasyJet's UK boss Ali Gayward said Scotland remained a "really important market" despite rising fuel prices, tough competition and Brexit uncertainty.

Industry challenges

Ms Gayward told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We've been expanding in Scotland for a number of years. Our focus the last few times had been in Edinburgh, but we feel right now the time is right to grow in Glasgow.

"There's been a huge amount of development both at the airport and in the city and it's in response to what our customers are telling us."

Image copyright Glasgow Airport

EasyJet's expansion plan came after rival budget airline Norwegian Air said it was scrapping flights between Ireland and the US, blaming the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

And Scottish airline Loganair has said a big rise in compensation claims for weather-hit flights could force regional airlines to cancel routes.

Ms Gayward said: "It's challenging to see what's going on and how it is impacting other airlines. The industry is very cyclical and sadly some airlines fall by the wayside or shrink."

Future growth

Asked if airlines may have to make further cuts, she said: "I think we will see that. We've seen the failure of airlines such as Monarch and Air Berlin.

"Airlines who are not in such a strong position financially - it is a tough time for them, with costs escalating out of control and changing customer demand.

"We're focussed on what we're doing. We think at times like this - this is when EasyJet actually do best - we ride the storm really well and we're well positioned for the future."

EasyJet's flew its first plane from Luton to Glasgow in November 1995 after the company was launched, and is now the largest airline operating in Glasgow.

Francois Bourienne of AGS Airports, which owns Glasgow Airport, said: "EasyJet's plans to expand operations is fantastic news for both the airport and over one million passengers who travel with the airline from Glasgow each year."

For the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.