RYANAIR has announced a big expansion of its operation at Bournemouth Airport, with a second aircraft to be based at the site and new destinations added for summer.

The budget airline said it will be flying to Carcassonne in France twice a week next summer, to Edinburgh four times a week and Venice twice a week.

Ryanair DAC chief executive Eddie Wilson flew into the Hurn site to announce the expansion.

He said the airline was delivering “good news and Christmas cheer.”

He said: “It’s an extra aircraft coming here. We’ll have additional frequencies on four other routes, 120 weekly flights and the spin-off in jobs.”

He said Ryanair was projecting it would carry 700,000 passengers from Bournemouth in the financial year 2023-24.

“We’re leading the UK’s post-Covid recovery,” he said.

“Bournemouth is going to have its biggest ever summer schedule, second based aircraft, more jobs for pilots and cabin crew based here locally,” he said.

Bournemouth Airport managing director Steve Gill said: “We see mutual opportunities in working with Europe’s number one airline and we’re absolutely delighted for this announcement today to see a significant growth for this airline in this region.”

He added: “It’s a fantastic Christmas present for us and for the region.”

He said the airport was on course to have recovered 95 per cent of its pre-pandemic passenger numbers by the end of this year and to have served 800,000 passengers.

Ryanair would be running 30 per cent more weekly flights next summer than in 2022, he said.

Asked whether plans to extend the runway at Southampton Airport could tempt Ryanair to direct some of its flights, there Mr Wilson said: “When you’ve got an established business and an established partnership and an established passenger base, you don’t move that – we tend not to do that unless the relationship changes in terms of cost.

“We just did an announcement this morning in Bristol, an extra aircraft here today in Bournemouth and we’ve announced a number of routes into Newquay. There’s plenty of room for expansion, particularly if you’ve got great-value low fares, so Southampton isn’t top of our list of what we might or might not do.

“We’ve got 234 airports. We’ve enough on our plate for the time being.”