EasyJet has marked 17 years of operations from Bristol airport by raising summer capacity by 10%.

The expansion sees a 17th Airbus aircraft based at the south-west airport and five new routes to Rhodes, Montpellier, Biarritz, Brindisi and Milan.

The budget airline now operates 74 routes and up to 740 flights a week from Bristol, its largest UK base outside London

Extra frequency has been added to destinations includingLyon, Zante, Belfast, Glasgow and Paris, enabling day trips to the French capital.

EasyJet is now the largest airline at Bristol offering almost six million a year. It has carried 55 million passengers from the airport since establishing operations there in 2002.

UK country manager Ali Gayward said: “We are delighted to be celebrating flying over 55 million passengers from Bristol today, this is a fantastic milestone for us.

“Bristol is a key market for easyJet and we continue to be committed to sustainable growth at the airport.

“We have added a significant number of extra seats this summer which means we can continue to provide affordable, convenient connections for our customers whether they’re travelling for business or leisure.

“We remain excited about the future at Bristol.”

Airport business development director Nigel Scott added: “We are incredibly proud of easyJet’s growth and it is a demonstration of the successful partnership between easyJet and Bristol airport.

“We look forward to further development of the long standing relationship between both companies and extending the route network in the future.”