Belfast Telegraph

New Northern Ireland sun holiday route heralded by easyJet in wake of profits slump

Confident: Ali Gayward
Confident: Ali Gayward

By Caitriona McBride

easyJet will announce a new route to a sun holiday destination next month as part of their Northern Ireland offering, the airline has said.

Speaking after annual results revealed a 26% drop in pre-tax profits to £427m, the company said Northern Ireland continues to be one of their most important bases. It flies to 35 destinations from Belfast International Airport.

It also announced a new package holiday business and has also claimed that it will be the first major airline in the world to operate net-zero carbon flights.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, UK country manager Ali Gayward said: "We are in a very, very challenging industry and it can be a challenging economic environment. There has also been uncertainty from Brexit which may have affected profits.

"However, revenue is up 8.3% to £6.4bn so we are very pleased with the results.

"Belfast continues to be one of our most strategic and successful locations in the UK.

"We are the largest airline in Northern Ireland with 51.4% of the total capacity and 73.4% of capacity from Belfast International Airport.

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"The support we have seen for more than 24 years from the people in Northern Ireland has been amazing," she said.

"Around 76% of our customers are repeat customers and I think Northern Ireland is one of our highest for repeat customers," she added.

New routes include a Marrakech flight to Morocco, which started at the end of last month.

Ms Gayward said they are pleased with its performance so far.

"It's early days yet for the route, but we are happy and pleased with how it's going so far," she said.

She also said it would be the first airline in the world to operate net-zero carbon flights.

"We will be investing in projects around the world to reduce the amount of deforestation with the planting of forests and other sustainability projects," she explained.

"We have 17 projects so far. We would encourage all of the aviation industry to follow our lead."

She said the new package holiday business will be launched next month.

"We are confident for 2020 and what we are seeing is strong demand so far, despite the uncertainty of Brexit," said Ms Gayward.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: "easyJet finished the 2019 financial year with a strong performance across the business and a record summer."

Belfast Telegraph