Inside easyJet’s Huge UK Domestic Flight Expansion

easyJet has put on sale 12 additional domestic UK routes, all taking off in early July. This means it’ll operate 55 domestic services this summer. Three airports – Belfast City, East Midlands, and Leeds Bradford – have rejoined its network after years of absence. However, there is great uncertainty over whether the routes and airports will be staying beyond the summer.

easyJet has added 12 domestic UK services based on staycation demand and the end of Stobart Air. Photo: Getty Images.

A good chunk of easyJet’s coming routes are designed to capitalize on peak summer demand for staycations, especially given the difficulty, expense, and uncertainty of traveling abroad. Increased demand for fun-in-the-sun travel is most clearly demonstrated by new routes to Bournemouth, Jersey, and Newquay.

The services build on easyJet’s other added routes to these destinations, such as Belfast International and Edinburgh Bournemouth and Gatwick, Glasgow, and Manchester to Newquay. In April, we showed that Newquay expects record airline numbers this summer.

Two of easyJet’s routes are also driven by the end of Stobart Air, which had a strong network of former Flybe services from Belfast City under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. One-third of Belfast City’s capacity this year was to be by Stobart Air, analyzing OAG data shows. easyJet has added three new routes from Belfast, both from its long-established base at Belfast International and now from the downtown airport.

All routes begin in early July. Image: GCMap

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12 more UK domestic routes

A handful of the 12 routes will see head-to-head competition, including with Blue Islands (Birmingham and Bristol to Jersey), Loganair (Manchester to Aberdeen and Newcastle-Jersey), and Jet2 (Newcastle-Jersey). easyJet will be the third airline to serve Jersey from Newcastle, a route it cut following the end of its base at the airport.

  1. Belfast City-Gatwick: starting July 9th; 14-weekly
  2. Belfast International to East Midlands: July 9th; four-weekly; replaces Stobart from City
  3. Belfast International-Leeds Bradford: July 9th; four-weekly; replaces Stobart from City
  4. Birmingham-Jersey: July 11th; twice-weekly
  5. Birmingham-Newquay: July 10th; twice-weekly
  6. Bristol-Aberdeen: July 9th; four-weekly
  7. Bristol-Jersey: July 10th; three-weekly
  8. Inverness-Newquay: July 11th; twice-weekly
  9. Liverpool-Bournemouth: July 10th; twice-weekly
  10. Manchester-Aberdeen: July 9th; four-weekly
  11. Manchester-Edinburgh: July 9th; five-weekly
  12. Newcastle-Jersey: July 10th; three-weekly
easyJet will now have 55 domestic UK services this summer, up from 37 in summer 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

For how long will they be served?

While beach-focused routes will obviously end in the summer, it’s more intriguing that city-to-city services are bookable only until the end of October. This raises the question of whether they are expected to exist beyond then. In the case of Belfast, will they be a short-term plug until Emerald Airlines takes off? Emerald is almost inevitably to be the successor to Stobart Air for the Aer Lingus Regional contract.

easyJet is to begin London Gatwick (seen here) to Belfast City. This isn’t directly from the end of Stobart Air, which operated for Aer Lingus Regional. However, Belfast City will see multiple replacement services, most likely to be only temporary: Aer Lingus itself (to Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Manchester); BA CityFlyer (Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, and Newquay); and, from Belfast International, easyJet (to East Midlands and Leeds Bradford). Photo: Getty Images.

The return of three UK airports

Perhaps the most significant development is easyJet returning to three UK airports: Belfast City; East Midlands; and Leeds Bradford. The latter, served between 2010 and 2017, had just one route: a skiing-orientated service to Geneva.

easyJet last served Belfast City between 2010 and 2011 with just one route from London Luton. This period coincided with Ryanair operating from the downtown Belfast airport, including to London Stansted. And, now in 2021, Ryanair has also relaunched Belfast City, although with only international routes.

easyJet inherited East Midlands when it acquired Go, the ‘upmarket’ LCC. Go launched East Midlands as its third UK base in 2002. easyJet itself served East Midlands between 2004 until 2010 when it ended its base and redeployed the three aircraft stationed there.

Will you be flying within the UK this year? Let us know in the comments.

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