THE very first Jet2 flight from Newcastle Airport took off 15 years ago - and two cabin crew who were on that flight are still working for the airline to this day.

The popular holiday operator is celebrating its milestone 15th anniversary flying international routes from the North-East airport.

In this time, the airline has flown more than 9m customers to and from Newcastle Airport since 2005.

Claire Burns, who is now Duty Manager, and Lisa McGarry, a Cabin Crew Base Manager, have spoken out about their time at the airline.

The friends both joined and trained as Cabin Crew together before taking off on the very first flight from Newcastle Airport. 

Ms Burns said: "I started working for the company as Cabin Crew, then after five years I transferred to ground operations as a Customer Service Agent, before taking up the role of Trainer and then Supervisor.

"Like Jet2 you could say I’ve been on a bit of journey over the last 15 years."

The Northern Echo:

Claire Burns, left, with Lisa McGarry at Newcastle Airport Picture: JET 2

Ms Burns' passion and desire to work within the aviation industry stemmed from a holiday to Australia when she was six years old.

She said: “I started my career working as an Administrator, but at the first chance I got, I joined an airline as Cabin Crew.

"After having a family, I went back to office work but when I heard that the company was opening a new base in my hometown of Newcastle, I saw it as a golden opportunity to take to the skies once again and haven’t looked back since."

Thanks to her previous flying experience, Ms McGarry joined the airline and then moved on to become a Trainer, before landing her current role of Cabin Crew Base Manager.

But while a vast majority of her time is now spent at the airport overseeing and managing the Cabin Crew based at Newcastle Airport, she still gets to fly with the crew every so often.

Ms McGarry said: “It was while I was working for another airline that I heard that Jet2 had launched.

"As soon as it was announced that the company would be opening a base at Newcastle Airport, I jumped at the chance to join and was on the first training course for Cabin Crew, along with Claire.

"I’d heard positive things about the company, since it had started operating from other bases, and I was keen to join an airline that was going places.”

She continued: “While my time now might be spent more on the ground rather then up in the air, I still get to see the excitement on customers’ faces when they are heading off on holiday and ensure that they receive our famous friendly service in the sky.

"The whole team are like one big, happy family and there is great comradery amongst us. I’m looking forward to the next 15 years at Newcastle with Jet2."

Paying tribute to their years of service and customers who have used the airline since 2005, Steve Heapy, Chief Executive Officer of Jet2 said: “We have grown considerably in the North East since we launched our first flight from Newcastle Airport a decade and a half ago, and this is all down to the support and loyalty from holidaymakers and independent travel agents across the North East.

"As we look towards to the future, our values remain as strong as they did back then, and we look forward to further success at Newcastle Airport.”

Richard Knight, Chief Operating Officer at Newcastle Airport said the airport was "looking forward" to continued years of service.

He said: "It's fantastic to see Jet2 reach this impressive milestone at Newcastle. It has grown from strength to strength in the region and is now Newcastle's largest airline.​

"Jet2 has invested in a wide range of destinations and provide extremely high levels of customer service which makes it a very popular choice with our passengers.

"I would like to thank Jet2 for its continued support over the last 15 years and look forward to many more years of success to come."​