LONDON, England - UK low-fare carrier easyJet has confirmed it will base an eighth aircraft at Manchester Airport from next year to enable it to introduce a further three new destinations to its network from the North West UK city, including its first ever non-stop scheduled service to the Russian capital Moscow.
The airline will also add flights to Prague and Thessaloniki and these are in addition to the routes to Antalya, Mykonos, Reykjavik, Santorini and Venice that it announced only last month with confirmation of a seventh based aircraft.
Fresh from securing lucrative traffic rights to serve the London â Moscow market in a battle with Virgin Atlantic Airways, easyJet has confirmed that the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has now also awarded it rights to fly the Manchester â Moscow route and it is now working to formalise a schedule for the new route. According to the carrier, the route will commence in spring 2013, most likely in late March or early April and will be flown on a four times weekly basis with rotations on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays using an 180-seat Airbus A320. The additional based aircraft from March 2013 facilitates the addition of a three times weekly link to Prague and twice weekly services to Thessaloniki as well as enabling easyJet to boost frequencies on its new route to Santorini and existing destinations like Paphos.
"We are pleased to announce the launch of the first ever scheduled services between Manchester and Moscow. These new services exactly fit easyJet's âjoin the dots' strategy which is to add flights to destinations from multiple bases across Europe providing passengers with convenient point to point services,â said Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive Officer, easyJet.
âRussia has a fast growing economy and is a country rich in culture and history - so a direct link from the North of England has been long overdue. With our strong European network we look forward to connecting Moscow with other European cities,â she added.
According to statistics an estimated 25,000 O&D passengers travelled to Moscow from Manchester in 2011, with notable passenger flows via Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Zurich and, of course, London. When you consider the additional passengers that travel from the area to London by surface transport to catch the flights of Aeroflot Russian Airlines, British Airways and Transaero Airlines from Heathrow Airport, it adds up to a sizeable market. easyJet says it expects to fly over 60,000 passengers in its first year of service between Manchester and Moscow.
easyJet first launched flights from Manchester in March 2008 with links to Innsbruck, Malta and Paphos and added services to Heraklion, Malaga and Tenerife the following month. It subsequently expanded its schedule with a mix of city break and holiday destinations, mainly targeting leisure passengers, although as its wider business strategy has placed an additional focus on the business market, a number of additional destinations have been added at Manchester.
The last two years has seen a strong growth as a fifth based aircraft was added in January 2010 and then a sixth in May 2011. As our recent analysis showed (see here for full report), Manchester Airport is currently the ninth largest airport in easyJet's UK network by available seat capacity with 406 flights scheduled this month offering 68,112 seats in each direction. This month easyJet celebrated carrying five million passengers at Manchester Airport, inaugurated twice weekly services to Tel Aviv and confirmed it is due to roll-out allocated seating on all flights from the airport from November 27