By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
PALMA became Ryanair's 19th Spanish destination yesterday with Europe's largest low cost carrier, not only announcing that it is going to start operating out of Son Sant Joan airport, but that it is also going to launch five new routes out of Majorca.

Ryanair will be taking off to the first of its new routes to Liverpool on March 27 followed by Frankfurt on April 7, Pisa, Italy, on April 18, London-Stansted on March 23 and Niederheinn, near Dusseldorf in early June.

Maribel Rodríguez, the airline's director of marketing for Spain and Portugal, said in Palma yesterday that, Ryanair expects to carry 400'000 passengers per year on its five new routes in and out of the Majorcan capital.

She also said that Ryanair's arrival in Palma will create 400 new jobs and generate an estimated eight million euros per year in tourism revenue. Ryanair's decision to start operating in Palma is good news for passengers because the low cost airlines are going to face fierce competition for clients as the no frills market continues to grow in Majorca.

Ryanair, which was founded by the Ryan family with a share capital of one pound in 1985 with a staff of 25, is not ruling out expanding in the Balearics. “We are always open to new possibilities providing they meet out criteria and the demands of our clients,” Rodríguez said yesterday. easyJet, the first low cost airline to operate to Palma, and Air Berlin, have recently moved into the domestic Spanish market. With Ryanair operating 129 routes out of 19 mainland airports while developing a new flight centre in Madrid, the low cost carrier's next move could be into the increasingly competitive Spanish market.

Spain now accounts for ten percent of the airline's turnover and over the past four years, since Ryanair first flew into Spain, the airline has carried 18 million passengers.

Last year, Ryanair's total passengers figure was 42.5 million and this year, the airline hopes to break the 50 million barrier.

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