Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- EasyJet Plc, Europe’s second-biggest discount carrier, plans to open two new bases in France next year, strengthening its challenge to the nation’s flagship carrier Air France-KLM Group.
EasyJet will base two Airbus SAS A319 narrowbody airplanes in both Nice and Toulouse for next year’s summer season, taking the size of its fleet in France to 24 airplanes, it said in a statement today.
The company estimates the penetration of low-cost carriers in the French market to be 24 percent, about half the European average, giving it room to expand. Air France, under pressure in its home market, is rolling out its own lower-cost regional operations.
“France is a strategic market for EasyJet, where the airline -- already the country’s second-largest -- clearly has room to grow,” Catherine Lynn, the airline’s customer and revenue director, said in the statement.
EasyJet opened its first French base at Paris Orly in 2003 and added bases at the city’s Charles de Gaulle airport and Lyon in 2008. The airline said it has flown 12 million passengers to and from France this year.
As a consequence of the new bases, the carrier will add five additional routes from Toulouse, including Basel and Brussels, and a further five destinations from Nice, including Bordeaux and Nantes.
The move will lift the number of routes it flies to from the two airports by 10 to 37.
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