Ryanair jobs at Liverpool, Manchester and East Midlands promised

Chief executive Michael O'Leary says the company hopes to carry an extra one million passengers

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Airline Ryanair is to expand its operations and create an estimated 1,000 jobs at airports in Liverpool, Manchester and the East Midlands.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said the company was "growing like gangbusters" and hoped to carry an extra one million passengers from 2013.

He said the passengers would come from nine new routes from the airports.

East Midlands Airport's Tim McDermott said he would "challenge" whether new jobs would be created.

The expansion will also see two new aircraft added to operations at Manchester and East Midlands.

The company said it would be creating 460 new roles at East Midlands, 360 at Manchester and 180 at Liverpool.

Mr O'Leary said the roles, which the company hopes to fill by summer 2013, include "pilots, engineers, cabin crew, handling staff and baggage staff".

He said the company's success, which comes at a time when other carriers are struggling, was partly due to its strategy of basing some larger aircraft at regional airports around the UK, rather than London.

'Major contributor'

"We're taking more and more big aircraft and placing those not at the big airports like Heathrow, but across the regions," he said.

"People no longer want to travel down to Heathrow, they want to fly from their local airport."

Analysis

East Midlands will likely be the biggest winner from Ryanair's regional expansion plans.

The airport witnessed a sharp downturn in fortunes earlier in the year when home-based airline British Midland International was sold to the International Airlines Group and its route network and valuable London Heathrow slots transferred to British Airways (BA).

East Midlands was effectively hit with a double whammy as the controversial BA route network and slots grab led to the closure of BMI Baby and left the airport without two of its key airline partners.

Ryanair's announcement will be welcome news. It may result in skills within the region being maintained and indicates a softening of the previously fractious relationship between Manchester Airports Group and the airline.

News that the airline intends expanding operations at Liverpool John Lennon merely emphasises the importance of this airport to Europe's low cost air carriers.

Manchester and East Midlands Airports are operated by the Manchester Airports Group.

The group's chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said Ryanair's announcement was a "sign of its continuing confidence in Manchester and willingness to expand its range of services for our passengers".

"We want to work alongside our airlines to grow their services across our airports and the expansion represents the type of growth opportunities we are actively seeking in the market," he said.

The growth in Manchester was also welcomed by the city's Chamber of Commerce, whose research manager Christian Spence said it could "boost the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors and result in further increases in investment in these areas".

"The aviation sector is a major contributor to the economy and it is encouraging that the private sector is investing in our regional airports," he said.

Craig Richmond, the chief executive of Peel Airports, which operates Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said the expansion was "great news both for the airport and the region too".

"We're delighted with Ryanair's latest commitment to grow their business from Liverpool," he said.

"It gives holidaymakers an even greater choice next year and a further boost for the local economy with more visitors to Liverpool and the North West."

'Hard to pinpoint'

East Midlands Airport's Tim McDermott said that "any time you get an airline operating a new service out of your airport, it's always great news".

Ryanair plane taking off Ryanair operates 34 routes from Manchester, 39 from Liverpool and 38 from East Midlands

"When BMI Baby withdrew last year, it was a big blow and we've been actively working with a range of new airlines - Jet2, Monarch, FlyBe - to bring new services to this region to backfill the services we've lost."

However, Mr McDermott questioned the number of jobs the expansion would create and said he would "challenge whether it would be 400 new jobs created".

"It's always very hard to pinpoint where these jobs are going to be created from - a lot of jobs are actually sustained.

"In terms of new jobs, it will probably be in the tens."

Bob Atkinson, of consumer choice website Travelsupermarket.com, said that "any expansion in air services is great for UK consumers, because it gives more choice in either destinations or carriers to get there".

"From a jobs point of view, any operation will help sustain jobs, either here in the UK or at the points of arrival, and that is positive because it means people are able to take up new employment or continue in existing employment following this expansion."

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