AN airline has once again refused to rule out expansion at an airport after rising passenger demand.

Easyjet says it will continue looking at ways of extending its presence at Newcastle Airport following a spike in demand, with flyer numbers expected to exceed 1.1 million this year.

The update comes after the low-cost carrier told The Northern Echo a new service between Newcastle and Berlin could deliver further routes to destinations, including Paris and Venice, amid a city break boom.

Ali Gayward, Easyjet’s commercial manager, made the revelation after confirming the airline has increased flights by 13 per cent this winter and flew more than one million passengers from Newcastle during 2016.

She added well in excess of 100,000 of those passengers were flying for business, which she said was proof of the carrier’s worth in terms of helping augment the region’s export links and support its consistently positive balance of trade.

She said: “We remain committed to growing our presence in Newcastle.

“We support Newcastle tourism and business travel by ensuring it provides easy and affordable direct air links to many European destinations.

“As Newcastle’s largest airline, carrying more than one million passengers annually, customers have an unrivalled network of 17 routes at their doorstep.”

Easyjet says it operates up to 150 flights in and out of Newcastle every week, with its roster now including services to Berlin and Las Palmas, in Gran Canaria, and Ms Gayward previously told the Echo they could be a catalyst for increased European flights out of the region.

She said: “The market is cyclical but what we have seen, particularly over the last two years, is a resurgence in performance in Newcastle.

“We don’t start routes for the sake of it, we match them to the evolving demand and we hope Berlin could be a catalyst for more.

“It’s really important for us to understand what the people of the North-East want.

“Newcastle is performing very well for us; Emirates’ Dubai flights have put the airport on the map and are pulling people into the region.

“What the tourist board have also done is show Newcastle to be a great city destination and it has gorgeous countryside too.”

John Irving, Newcastle Airport’s business development director, reiterated the base’s desire to extend relations with the carrier.

He added: “We enjoy a fantastic working relationship with Easyjet and are delighted to see passenger numbers continue to grow.

“The announcement of an increase in flights by 13 per cent this winter is a further clear indication of Easyjet’s commitment to the airport and the North-East.

“We look forward to exploring future options to ensure the region remains well connected.”