RYANAIR has said Bournemouth Airport is “really important” to the company as it unveiled a winter schedule with two new destinations.

The budget airline will offer almost 40 flights a week from the Hurn site, including new winter routes to Lanzarote and Venice.

It says the winter schedule creates 30 local jobs directly and supports around 470 around the airport.

Ryanair’s head of communications, Jade Kirwan, said the company was expecting to reach 585,000 passengers through Bournemouth Airport by the end of the year.

She said the airline’s winter schedule from Bournemouth mixed “winter sun” destinations with “city break locations including Venice, Dublin and Krakow”.

“We’ve had an aircraft based in Bournemouth for all of last winter. We’re going to be keeping that there this winter. This is a 100million dollar investment,” she said.

The winter timetable includes two weekly flights to Venice Marco Polo and one to Lanzarote. It offers three flights a week to Alicante, two each to Dublin, Faro, Krakow, Malaga and Wroclaw and one each to Malta and Tenerife South.

Ms Kirwan said: “We’ve bounced back quite strongly from the pandemic period. I would say we’re past the recovery stage of the pandemic.”

She said there had been “huge demand” for Ryanair flights and passengers were booking further ahead than last year, when the prospect of winter lockdowns made people cautious.

“I think we’re starting to see a return to that longer-term planning. People are starting to book already for Christmas,” she added.

She said of Bournemouth Airport: “We have a brilliant relationship there.”

Ms Kirwan said the cost of living crisis had made customers “a bit more price sensitive”, but they were not giving up flying and were more inclined to turn to Ryanair.

She also said comments by Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary – saying the era of the 10 euro ticket was over – had been misperceived.

“We’re very confident we’ll be able to keep our prices low,” she said.

“What he meant by that was that when we had £10 fares maybe they would have to go up to £19.99, it’s still going to be accessible and affordable.

“The average is about £35 and we’ll probably need to increase that to maybe £42-£43.”

Southampton Airport is due to get a runway extension next year, enabling a wider range of flights.

She said Ryanair was “always looking at different airports and different operations” but she said it would “never make changes on the basis of something like that alone”.

Other factors, such as airport pricing and staff availability, came into play, she said.

“Bournemouth is a really important airport for us and I don’t see that changing any time soon,” she added.