Fifth Jet2 plane for airport as airline builds on its success
AN airline boss says he intends to base a fifth aircraft at East Midlands Airport this year as part of the company's expansion plans.
Philip Meeson, chief executive of Jet2, said extra aircraft would service the company's busy summer flying schedule.
Mr Meeson revealed the plans as his airline, which employs about 100 people at the airport, celebrates its 10th anniversary.
The Leeds-based mid-haul carrier first started operating flights from East Midlands in 2010.
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Since then, it has added extra routes, resulting in the airport becoming Jet2's fourth largest base, flying 23 routes.
Mr Meeson said: "I'm absolutely delighted with how East Midlands Airport has performed for us.
"We initially took the decision to expand to the Midlands because of the catchment area. It has worked tremendously well, with people from Derby, Leicester and Nottingham – as well as further afield – flying with us.
"We are now looking to build on that progress this year – and that will mean basing a fifth aircraft at East Midlands Airport."
Mr Meeson said the popularity of package holidays had fuelled Jet2's growth.
As well as providing flights through Jet2, the company also provides holidays through its travel agency business, Jet2holidays.
He said: "In the current economic climate, people want to pay an all-inclusive price, which they can budget for. We're expecting to do 800,000 package holidays this year – 240,000 of those so far are repeat bookings."
Mr Meeson said Jet2's ability to offer the full package had helped the firm negotiate some of the challenges currently facing other airlines.
Jet2's competitors have had differing fortunes over the past 12 months.
Last year, BMI Baby, which was one the airport's largest operators, closed after its parent company, International Airlines Group, failed to find a buyer for the company.
This week, Ryanair, which is the largest operator at East Midlands, with 36 routes, reported a better-than-expected performance over the last three months of 2012, with profits up by 21%.
In contrast, Flybe announced plans to cut 300 jobs and review UK operations.
Mr Meeson said: "I think our advantage is that we are not just an airline.
"We also put a great deal of effort into our customer service and have invested in our fleet of aircraft to make the passenger experience more comfortable.
"If we stick with this formula, I believe we will have a very good next 10 years."