Jobs boost as Ryanair announces new Leeds Bradford Airport base

Low-cost airline Ryanair today announced it is to set up a base at Leeds Bradford International Airport creating hundreds of new jobs.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary was at the airport to make the announcement, which the Dublin-based airline said would have a "significant impact" on the Yorkshire region.

It is a major boost to the airport, which is on course to almost double in size after planners recently gave permission for a 28 million development.

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The scheme includes upgrading the terminal, which would also feature a new two-storey extension to accommodate a new airside departure lounge.

A Ryanair spokesman said the new base, which will open next March, would create 1,000 "well-paid" jobs in Yorkshire.

The company will offer 14 new routes and 63 weekly return flights to and from Leeds Bradford in an investment worth more than 140 million US dollars (84 million) in the airport.

Two aircraft will be based at Leeds Bradford, which will become the airline's 34th base.

The new routes will take Ryanair's total number of destinations from Leeds Bradford to 17.

The airline expects the new flights to result in one million passengers passing through the airport each year.

John Parkin, Leeds Bradford International Airport chief executive, said: "This is a great vote of confidence in the potential of both the airport and our region from Europe's largest airline.

"Today's announcement makes us an exception in the sector and will help create much-needed jobs.

"It shows Ryanair shares our confidence in the tremendous opportunity for strong market growth."

Ryanair boss Mr O'Leary added: "Ryanair is delighted to announce Leeds Bradford as our 34th base and our 11th UK base airport.

"Ryanair's one million passengers will create and sustain 1,000 jobs locally at Leeds Bradford Airport."

The 14 new routes will fly from Leeds Bradford to: Carcassonne, Limoges, Montpellier and Nantes, in France; Malaga and Murcia, in Spain; Pisa and Venice Treviso, in Italy; Faro, in Portugal; Ibiza airport, in Ibiza; Knock, in Ireland; Krakow, in Poland; Malta airport, in Malta; and Palma, in Majorca.

The new routes go on sale tomorrow, with the airline releasing one million 5 seats for travel in October and November available to book until midnight on Thursday.

Speaking at the airport, Mr O'Leary said Leeds Bradford had been keen to attract Ryanair.

He said: "We are the fastest-growing airline in Europe. This year we will carry almost three times the passengers British Airways will.

"When we show up, at our very low fares we deliver very rapid and enormous traffic growth and that's what sustains jobs.

"International airports have confirmed that for every one million passengers about 1,000 jobs are created, not in the local regions but actually at the local airport, so we will see massive investment in Leeds Bradford airport next year."

Mr O'Leary also said the new terminal and new Ryanair routes would not disturb the residents of the area.

He said: "Ryanair is a very good neighbour for two reasons - one, we operate a fleet of brand new Boeing 737 aircraft that are the quietest aircraft in service.

"The other key thing about Ryanair is that we don't fly through the night. We start early in the morning and we finished usually about 11 o'clock in the evening.

"I think people in the region will enjoy having Ryanair as a neighbour."

Commenting on how Ryanair and the airport might avoid the same disruption seen when London Heathrow's Terminal 5 opened, he said: "I think unlike Terminal 5 and these ridiculously expensive facilities that they love building at the London airport this is a sensible facility.

"We are very confident it will be a relatively seamless launch of the new terminal and our new flights."

Andrew Carter, joint leader of Leeds City Council, welcomed the move by Ryanair.

The Conservative councillor said: "I'm delighted.

"For this expansion to be announced, with the jobs it will bring and the inward investment, is extremely welcome in these economic times.

"It's a vote of confidence from a significant company in our city region."

Mr Carter added: "It's clearly a big boost to the local economy.

"It will mean jobs all round the city region and, hopefully, there will be inward tourism as well, with a lot of people flying to Leeds Bradford.

"We want to work with Ryanair and, indeed, with existing operators from the airport, to make sure that inward-bound tourists get the best possible welcome and that visiting Yorkshire is a really worthwhile experience for them.

"I think Yorkshire, as a tourist destination, has a great deal to offer."