No-frills carrier Ryanair has embarked on a major expansion involving 2,500 new jobs, ten new bases, continuing lower fares and more than £2 billion-worth of new planes.
The Irish budget airline yesterday said it had placed an order for 70 more Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with options on 70 more.
The new planes will arrive between 2008 and 2012 and are expected to take Ryanair's passenger numbers up to more than 70 million a year.
The new planes will help create more than 2,500 jobs - principally for pilots, cabin crew and engineering people.
The airline, which operates scheduled flights from Birmingham International Airport to Dublin, Gerona and Murcia, said: "Half of these jobs will be generated at the airline's existing 12 European bases, with the remainder at the ten or more new bases which will be developed by Ryanair over the next seven years."
Announcing the expansion plans in London, Ryanair chairman David Bonderman said: "The Boeing 737-800 series aircraft is the most efficient narrow-body short-haul aircraft in the world. Since its introduction into the Ryanair fleet in March 1999, it has transformed our technical reliability, making Ryanair the number one on-time major airline in Europe.
"At the same time, the 737-800 has significantly reduced our unit operating costs and allowed us to reduce air fares each year for the last five years."