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Aviation: Liverpool John Lennon Airport closes in on new airlines

The Chief Executive Officer of Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA), John Irving, revealed he is “pretty sure” a major airline could be set to launch flights from Merseyside soon, saying the airport has come very close to securing an agreement with German airline Lufthansa. Talks with a second major airline could be in the works, with the airport looking to ‘reinvigorate’ its relationship with KLM - the Dutch airline having ended its Amsterdam route in 2012. Mr Irving said negotiations are ongoing with a number of airlines - and that without Brexit, a long-haul provider may have been announced in March 2020.

It comes as the airport hopes to increase footfall by one million extra passengers over the next year and speaking at an event hosted by Marketing Liverpool, Mr Irving is buoyant about the future. Mr Irving said the airport would “never” compete directly with Manchester, which he described as the “international gateway to the north”. But he said: “We want to do more at JLA and for the city region, and getting that business traffic back into JLA is the number one target for us. We can link the people of this region and businesses of this region to the rest of the world.

“We will never in the next 10 years get to having double daily Emirates, double daily Qatar’s. But we will have a service that suits us as a region and as an airport - but that competition to get that route is phenomenally difficult.”

Mr Irving added: “If I'm being honest, if the political uncertainty of Brexit wasn’t there, I think we would be sitting here talking about [an airline that flies to UAE or Qatar] coming in March this year, which would have fundamentally changed us as a business, and I think, fundamentally change [businesses] and the investment that we could generate as a city region.”