No-frills airline easyJet launches its new Palma to Gatwick route today, just one of five new services from Gatwick announced this week, including a service to Zurich which replaces one of the routes being dropped by BA. On the eve of the inaugural Palma-Gatwick flight, easyJet yesterday welcomed British Airways' decision to pull back from Gatwick Airport. BA is cutting 10 routes from Gatwick, and moving a further eight to Heathrow. The airline, which started operating to Palma from Luton four years ago and added the Liverpool-Palma service two years ago, will today also launch a new Malaga-Gatwick service. Between today and March 22, easyJet will be operating one flight a day between Palma and Gatwick, on March 22, the airline will be operating two flights a day. The Gatwick route not only provides south east England with easy access to no-frills flights to Majorca - removing the need to either navigate round the M25 to Luton or fight across London on public transport. Majorca can now reach a larger slice of the individual traveller market. An easyJet spokesman said yesterday: “We've been wanting to expand at Gatwick for some time and will take profitable opportunities as they arise. “We're looking to have 20 to 30 planes operating from the airport in 10 years' time.” By the end of the week, easyJet will have 10 services operating out of Gatwick, including short-haul flights to Barcelona, Palma and Edinburgh. The airline's load factor, which represents passengers as a proportion of the seats available, was 81.9% last month, up from 74.3% in January 2001. The figures reflect the continued success of so-called no-frills operators despite the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks. EasyJet has already placed an order for 75 new planes as part of a major expansion planned for the next five years.

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