EASYJET is launching five new routes serving Scotland where it plans to create more jobs in an expansion drive that provides a significant vote of confidence in the outlook for the market.

The budget airline will offer flights linking Glasgow with new destinations in Croatia, Turkey and Spain from next year.

It also plans to add routes linking Edinburgh with Gibraltar and Sicily.

easyJet plans to base an additional plane in Edinburgh to help service the new routes taking the total operating out of the city’s airport to nine.

The move will create around 50 jobs for Edinburgh-based flight, cabin and ground crew.

In August easyJet announced plans to base a fifth plane in Glasgow.

easyJet pledges 50 jobs for Glasgow airport

The company said the expansion announced yesterday will help it to deliver long term, sustainable growth in Scotland.

It is making the move months after the Scottish Government scrapped plans to cut air passenger duty amid concern about climate change.

Tourism chiefs hit out at SNP ministers after U-turn on air tax

The move reflects confidence in the outlook for the demand for flights from Scotland to airports serving beach holiday centres and city break destinations.

The new routes include summer services linking Glasgow with the resort centres of Pula in Croatia and Dalaman in Turkey and between Edinburgh and the Sicilian coastal town of Catania.

Services between Glasgow and Barcelona and between Edinburgh and Gibraltar will run throughout the year, targeting leisure and business travellers.

UK country manager Ali Gayward said easyJet was confident of getting strong demand for seats on all the services given the success of existing services.

While the outlook for the economy has been clouded by uncertainty around Brexit and the prospect of today’s general election, there has been no sign of demand falling.

'Exceptional' discounting fuels rise in Scottish retail sales

Flights serving Scotland have been achieving load factors of around 90 per cent.

“Scottish travellers are demonstrating to us that we need this extra capacity here. It’s a very strong market for us,” said Ms Gayward.

She said the last thing people tend to give up in an economic downturn is their annual beach holiday and second city break.

“The whole Brexit piece has taken longer than anyone anticipated but we’ve seen very much that people are carrying on as normal,” she noted.

easyJet is confident of getting quite a high volume of inbound customers on the Barcelona and Gibraltar services, given the number of expats living in the areas they serve.

The Catania service could benefit from strong links between Scotland and Italy.

“Because of the very high calibre of universities across Scotland we see a large number of students coming in from Spain as well as some other European markets to study here,” added Ms Gayward.

easyJet reckons demand for services from Scotland will be supported by the company’s recent decision to relaunch its holiday business. This followed the collapse of big competitor Thomas Cook.

However, Ms Gayward said the routes announced yesterday were in planning well before the demise of Thomas Cook. The planning cycle takes around 18 months.

easyJet has planes based in European centres that could be used to develop new services to Scotland.

Loganair links up with Flybe to boost demand for routes serving Scottish airports

The new plane based in Glasgow may be used on the service linking the city with Birmingham that easyJet will launch next year. The company announced plans for the service in August.

Paul White, head of Aviation at Glasgow Airport, said the four new routes from the city confirmed easyJet’s strong commitment to the facility and its passengers.

Edinburgh airport chief executive Gordon Dewar welcomed yesterday’s announcement as a sign of confidence. Noting that Gibraltar provides both leisure and business opportunities, he said Sicily had been a long sought after destination for the airport.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “We welcome easyJet’s announcement ... particularly those routes from Barcelona and Gibraltar which will open up great opportunities to draw many more visitors from those captive regions and across the east and south of Spain.”

In September easyJet announced plans to run flights between Edinburgh Birmingham from next year.