Picture from easyJet.

MIAMI — UK carrier, easyJet, has added an additional base in their French portfolio: Bordeaux. The carrier has had a long and extensive set of operations at the airport, flying to and from for over 10 years.

This base addition means that easyJet’s total capacity will increase to 22 million seats annually and an increase of 2.2 million seats in Bordeaux alone, which represents a 21% increase in growth locally.

Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet, commented on this occasion, “France continues to be a central part of the easyJet strategy, and it is the largest market concerning bases outside of the UK. easyJet has been operating to and from Bordeaux for more than a decade,” she said.

“The local market’s maturity, along with customer loyalty and demand, together with the airport’s investment strategy are the main reasons for our decision to open a base in Bordeaux. Next spring the new routes, a mixture of business and leisure, will be launched from the new base and these will directly benefit the local tourism economy as well as accelerating Bordeaux’s connectivity within France and with the rest of Europe.”

The new base will open in 2018 and will create 110 direct jobs with local contracts, which is aimed to stimulate the Bordelais economy.

easyJet has also said via a press statement that they are to base three Airbus A320 aircraft there and five new routes will be launched under this expansion plan. The airline already provides more than 1,100 jobs to the French economy, which makes it the second largest industrial employer in France.

Pascal Personne, Bordeaux Airport’s Director also commented on this opening, “easyJet has been our partner for 11 years now and this base launch is a real asset for the economic development of Bordeaux and the region,” he said.

“Our clients will benefit from new routes, an improved schedule with more day trip options, and additional first waves. We are really happy with this announcement and look forward to receiving positive feedback in both the short and long-term,” he added.

Continuation of Dominance Against Ryanair?

With the opening of six bases since 1996, Bordeaux will join the base list of Paris Orly, CDG, Lyon, Toulouse and Nice.

The French market is apparently a key hitter for easyJet regarding profits and revenues, with the carrier handling 17 million passengers in between France and respective destinations in 2016.

It benefits easyJet in particular due to the very testy relationship that competitor Ryanair has with the French air industry. ATC strikes have been a huge revenue loss for Ryanair and they have actively condemned these strikes on a frequent basis.

At the French Air Forum earlier this year, Michael O’Leary made his intentions very clear on why he will not base aircraft in France, especially after the contract fallout with staff in Marseille back in 2011.

The French market for easyJet is counting for 23% of their annual passenger numbers. And this seems to be growing.

Last year, easyJet carried 4.5 million more passengers across their network compared to 2015. However, it may just be dominance against Ryanair in the French market.

Ryanair’s year-on-year (YoY) passenger numbers have increased by an average of 16 million passengers per year. 2015 saw them carry 90.6 million passengers; last year 106.4 million passengers.

This clearly shows that easyJet has found a flourishing market to thrive out of, while Ryanair continues to dominate across the European spectrum.

For a carrier like easyJet who has struggled over the years, trailing Ryanair by some 40 million passengers per year, they seem to be getting onto their feet and trying to close the gap and become the biggest carrier in Europe like they used to be.

All-in-all, easyJet have France pretty nailed, something which could be seen as a disadvantage for Ryanair if they want to grow their passenger numbers as rapidly as they did between the 2015 and 2016 period.

Is Ryanair missing out? Yes. Does it matter to them? No.

That is the perspective. easyJet can keep working and dominating while Ryanair doesn’t show concern for the French market due to their differences.