LONDON, March 31 British budget airline easyJet
has secured more space at London's Luton airport to be
able to carry 20 percent more passengers next year, as it looks
to put new planes to use.
EasyJet said on Monday the expansion was part of a new
ten-year deal it signed with the airport. It did not give
financial terms of the deal.
EasyJet reached a seven-year agreement with London Gatwick,
its biggest base, on Thursday, where it plans to be able to
carry 10 percent more passengers by this time next year.
"Around 60 percent of what we will do is thickening our
routes and frequencies and about 30 percent to 40 percent will
be about new destinations," chief executive Carolyn McCall said
of the plans at Luton.
The company has 135 jets on order from Airbus to
help fly the new routes.
Luton, home to easyJet's headquarters, is the fourth busiest
airport in the London region. It is waiting for government
approval for a 150 million pound ($249 million) redevelopment.
The number of passengers travelling with easyJet from Luton
could more than double to around 9 million in the coming years
if the revamp is given the green light, the airline said.
Lawmakers and business leaders agree that south-east England
needs new runways to help the country remain economically
competitive and a recommendation about where they should go will
be made by the Airports Commission in the second half of next
year, but building would not complete until the middle 2020s.
London's biggest airport, Heathrow, is operating at 98
percent of its potential.
"London Luton can make a real and immediate contribution to
the need for more airport capacity in the south east," McCall
Luton airport is owned by the local council and has been
operated by Ardian and AENA Group, an investment firm and an
airport operating company respectively, since November 2013.
($1 = 0.6019 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Mark Potter)