EasyJet reportedly plans new routes from Glasgow as rival Ryanair cuts routes from the airport.
The UK low cost carrier wants to help “redress the balance” with Edinburgh airport, according to UK country manager Ali Gayward.
Four EasyJet aircraft are based at Glasgow, but she said the scale of its operations there – on 19 routes – was the equivalent of eight aircraft’s worth of flying.
She told The Scotsman newspaper: “Glasgow is a really important strategic base for us.” The airline has eight aircraft based at Edinburgh, where it has 41 routes.
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.”
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 in winter, blaming the Scottish government’s failure to halve Air Passenger Duty. 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.”
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Edinburgh Airport is to be sold by operator BAA after it was told by competition regulators to sell either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport . Edinburgh is now the busiest airport in Scotland. BAA has tried delaying tactics for 2 years.
BAA is now beginning preparations for a sale and it will probably approach the market in the New Year in order to agree a sale by Summer 2012. BAA chief executive, Colin Matthews, said they would be “very sorry to see it leave BAA”. The airport had annoyed customers by starting to charge for dropping off and picking up. MSPs have also become aware of the issue with the possibility of a legal challenge to the charges.
BAA will hold on to Aberdeen Airport and Glasgow Airport.
It has also been told to sell London Stansted Airport.
Mr Matthews said: “Edinburgh is a great airport with a great team and a great future and we will be very sorry to see it leave BAA. We remain committed to Scotland and we will continue our long-term investment to improve passenger and airline experience at Aberdeen and Glasgow, as well as at Edinburgh until the sale is complete.Choosing which airport to sell has been a difficult decision.
“Edinburgh Airport has shown itself to be a strong and resilient asset throughout the economic downturn.
“Passenger numbers at Edinburgh have grown by more than 6% over the past year and in an uncertain market we expect it to be an attractive asset to prospective buyers.
“Glasgow Airport has great opportunities for future growth and development and we think BAA is well-placed to build on its recent success. Both airports are of national importance and have a bright future.”