Easyjet has increased its presence in France with two new bases in the southern cities of Toulouse and Nice, as it looks to cement its position as France’s second largest carrier and continue its development towards becoming a pan-European airline.

The airline will base an A319 aircraft at each of the French airports later this month, allowing the launch of 12 new routes. This brings the total number of routes served by the carrier from French airports to 170, including eight daily services from Paris to both Toulouse and Nice.

Easyjet already has bases at Orly, Charles De Gaulle and Lyons, which have helped it to a 12 per cent market share in France.

Currently 20 per cent of passengers to France with Easyjet are business customers – two percentage points above the network average. This figure rises to 30 per cent in Toulouse, which is home of aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus.

Air France has recently stepped up a regional ‘offensive’ in a bid to hold off rivals such as Easyjet.

But Easyjet chief executive Carolyn McCall points out what she sees as a contradiction between Air France’s plans to invest in the French regions and still cut around €1.5 billion from its cost base.

“We like competition – this isn’t about Air France though,” said McCall. “We just want to create consumer choice.”

McCall added that the airline has encountered some obstacles in its attempts to become a pan-European airline but added that the airline is “used to being the challenger and will continue to be the challenger.”

The low-cost carrier admits that it has had to alter its marketing and branding for the French market, where it says it now boasts 91 per cent awareness, as emphasis on price only is not as reliable as in other countries, such as the UK and Spain.

Further emphasis on service and its network of destinations, as well as a continued commitment to low prices have been the main facets of the airline’s approach for the French market.

Easyjet is to start flights from Southend from April 2 and will also launch a base at Lisbon airport later this month.

The airline currently flies into Nice and Toulouse from Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Newcastle, London Gatwick, Stansted and Luton.

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