Flybe has announced new flights from London Southend to Caen in Normandy and Rennes, just a short drive over the border into Brittany. Fares are now on sales with prices starting at Â£29.99 or â‚¬34.99.
The Caen route will start on 03 July with four return flights per week and the Rennes route on 05 June. Flybe said it hopes to be able to introduce more flights on the Rennes route later in the year.
The new Flybe routes will be operated by franchise partner Stobart Air under a 10 year agreement and Flybe hopes to have 18,000 passengers on the Caen to Southend route in its first year of operation, rising to 50,000 in three years.
â€˜Each of these new routes will resonate with both business and leisure passengers. Prices are competitive, schedules are convenient, and the airports are efficient,â€™ said Simon Fagan, chief operating officer, Stobart Air.
â€˜The airportâ€™s connectivity to the centre of London, plus the positive customer experience make it attractive for both passengers and airlines. For the 20 million people living within two hours of London Southend airport, it presents popular new destinations,â€™ he explained.
â€˜The availability of daily return services on some of the routes means people can do a dayâ€™s business and be back home that evening,â€™ he added.
It is a first route from Caen to London for over a decade. The airport has been working hard to secure a route to the UK. In recent years a number of routes from Normandy and Brittany to the UK have ceased to operate.
Caen is also keen to put itself forward as the main airport for Normandy in comparison with its main rival at Deauville which has a twice weekly route operated by City Jet into London City Airport.
Michel Collin, president of the firm that runs the airport, situated on the outskirts of Caen at Carpiquet just off the A84 motorway, said that it is a great opportunity for the economic development of Lower Normandy and will appeal to business people and holidaymakers.
Flybe also announced new routes to Groningen in the Netherlands, MÃ¼nster OsnabrÃ¼ck and Cologne Bonn in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium.