Ryanair yesterday said it would launch ten new routes in a major expansion programme at its Nottingham East Midlands base, writes Steve Pain.

The new services, which will start in February next year, take in Alghero, Bratislava, Granada, Inverness, Knock, Krakow, Milan, Pisa, Santiago and Valencia.

The expansion will bring the total number of Ryanair routes from Nottingham East Midlands to 27.

With the new destinations Ryanair has increased five-fold the number of passengers it flies from Nottingham East Midlands in under a year, while the number of routes has grown from five to 27.

Michael Cawley, Ryanair's deputy chief executive, said: "In 2007 1.8 million passengers will travel with Ryanair to and from Nottingham East Midlands for 50 per cent less than the high fares charged by Easyjet.

"Not only is this great news for passengers, but it is also a major boost for business and tourism in the region which will now enjoy an upsurge in year-round visitors from continental Europe.

"This will support 1,800 jobs in the Midlands, deliver a visitor spend of £150 million and allow passengers to save almost £25 million compared to Easyjet's high fares."

He added: "This expansion will be achieved through Ryanair's $210 million (£111.7 million) investment in three new aircraft, bringing the total number of Ryanair aircraft based in NEMA to five.

"These aircraft are equipped with all of the latest technological advances in engine type, aerodynamics and blended winglets which ensure maximum fuel efficiency and have allowed Ryanair to reduce fuel burn by 45 per cent, cut CO2 emissions by 50 per cent per seat and reduce noise by 50 per cent.

"These three aircraft will also create 150 new highly-paid direct jobs in Nottingham East Midlands Airport."

Penny Coates, managing director of Nottingham East Midlands Airport, said: "We are delighted that Ryanair continues to grow its Nottingham East Midlands base.

"The 27 routes it now offers have added significantly to the range of destinations enjoyed by the people of the Midlands and have played an important part in assisting NEMA in fulfilling its role as wealth-generator for the region."