EasyJet is the UK's biggest airline
It might come as a surprise to holidaymakers to learn that budget carrier easyJet, not British Airways, has been confirmed this week as the UK's largest airline.
Indeed, British Airways, the flag carrier for the UK, is not even the second biggest airline. That honour goes to another budget airline, Ryanair.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, easyJet carried more than 28 million passengers last year, less than 100,000 more than Ryanair but almost two million more than British Airways.
Easyjet, which started out 15 years ago with just two orange-painted jets at Luton, now flies holidaymakers and business travellers from 16 airports across the country.
The airline, which is also the leading carrier at several other European airports such as Milan Malpensa and the second largest airline in France and Switzerland, expects to grow a further 10 per cent this year. It expects to carry more than 50 million passengers across Europe.
Already easyJet flies passengers to more than 500 destinations in 29 countries with a fleet of nearly 200 aircraft.
EasyJet and Ryanair have not only beaten British Airways into third place in terms of the number of UK passengers carried, they have also pushed bmi, once the UK's second largest airline, into fourth place. Southampton-based FlyBe came in fifth.
EasyJet Chief executive Andy Harrison said the airline's success was based on 'offering the lowest fares to the most convenient airports'. He added: EasyJet is now the UK's national airline. Passengers have clearly voted with their feet, boarding easyjet's aircraft more than any other airline.