Easyjet to fly from Manchester to Moscow
Airline Easyjet has announced three new routes from Manchester, including the first regular flights from the city to Moscow.
The company said the routes, which will be rolled out from March 2013, would create 80 jobs at the airport.
Easyjet chief executive Carolyn McCall said a route to the Russian capital was "long overdue".
She added the expansion, which will see an eighth aircraft based in Manchester, was "great for the regional economy".
The airline will also open new routes to Thessaloniki in Greece and the Czech capital, Prague.
Manchester Airports Group's Ken O'Toole said the Moscow route was "significant" as it meant that passengers would "not have to use London for travel to Russia".
He added the airline would "serve 32 routes from Manchester next summer" and that, as a result, the airport was "looking forward to working with them on the continued growth".
Emma Antrobus, transport policy manager at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said the introduction of a route from Manchester to Moscow was "fantastic news for everyone in the North West".
"We know that Russia has a fast growing economy and this provides an excellent opportunity for exporters from the region to access that vast market more easily, and to attract investment into our region," she said.
An Easyjet spokeswoman said the flights to Russia would operate four times a week from Manchester.
She said that the airline expected to fly 60,000 passengers in the first year of service.
She added that the jobs would be split among cabin crew, pilots and ground handling staff.
The new routes follow an announcement by Easyjet in October that it would be basing a seventh aircraft in Manchester.
That aeroplane, which will also create 80 jobs, will serve new routes to Reykjavik in Iceland and Venice in Italy, as well as increasing the carrier's capacity on its routes to Paphos in Cyprus and the Greek island of Santorini.