easyJet are to launch new flights from Manchester Airport to Spain next summer, commencing in May.

Flights to Murcia will commence on May 2, operating on Tuesdays and Saturdays with tickets scheduled to go on sale from December 7.

The new route is expected to create 40 jobs while the addition of the 186-seat Airbus A320neo will increase easyJet having 21 aircraft based at Corvera.

easyJet has been based at Manchester Airport for more than 15 years being its second largest airline.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK country manager, said: “I am delighted to be announcing our plans for expansion at Manchester airport.

“The addition of another aircraft will help us to deliver growth in Manchester and offer customers an even wider range of destinations, like our new summer route to Murcia in Spain.

“It will provide our customers in the North West with a direct connection to a region which offers a variety of rich culture and beautiful beaches in abundance, all with low fares and great customer service.”

Manchester Airport managing director Chris Woodroofe added: “We are pleased to see easyJet expanding its base here, having significantly increased the number of destinations it flies to from Manchester over the past year.

“It is also exciting to see the introduction of a Murcia service, which I am sure will be hugely popular with passengers this summer.”

The news comes amid easyJet insisted cash-strapped Britons will not ditch their overseas holidays in the face of soaring costs as it posted sharply narrowed annual losses after a record summer performance.

The group reported underlying pre-tax losses of £178m for the 12 months to September 30 against losses of £1.1bn the previous year.

It said it returned its best earnings for a single quarter over the summer, at £674m on an underlying basis, as the ending of Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions put overseas holidays back on track.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said consumers will prioritise holidays as they come under pressure from soaring inflation, adding that bookings for next spring and summer are already looking positive.

But the low-cost carrier cautioned over “market-wide” cost increases and said its first-half fuel expense was set to be more than 50% higher year-on-year due to soaring inflation.

The group’s costs, excluding fuel, increased by 106% over the past year to £4.6bn.

EasyJet is hiking ticket prices in response, with prices looking strong for Easter, 2023, though with its budget offering aid the cost-of-living crisis.

Lundgren said: “easyJet does well in tough times. Legacy carriers will struggle in this high-cost environment.

“Consumers will protect their holidays but look for value, and across its primary airport network, easyJet will be the beneficiary as customers vote with their wallets.”

The group remained in the red over the past year as it was hit by an extra £78m in disruption and compensation costs – caused by the travel chaos over the summer as flights were delayed and cancelled due to staff shortages across its operations and at airports.

This masked a record-breaking final quarter, with its flight programme back to around pre-Covid levels, which helped full-year passenger numbers jump 242% to 69.7 million on the pandemic-hit previous year.

The group said it had already started recruiting for next summer to help avoid the disruption seen in 2022.

The airline has launched a cabin crew recruitment campaign focused on the over-45s to boost its workforce.

Lundgren said it had received a phenomenal response – with applications up 75% on a daily basis: “The group would look to extend the campaign outside the UK,” he said.

It is seeing applications outstrip roles advertised, with 19,000 applications for 2,000 cabin crew jobs being offered.

easyJet said it would consider deals to expand, as smaller rivals across Europe fall foul of the cost crunch, saying it will not rule anything out.

“There will be a number of airlines that will struggle and don’t have the resource to go through uncertainty,” said Lundgren.