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Up to 2 thousand new jobs could be created in Manchester by Ryanair.
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said 20 new routes will be added to the existing six operated from Manchester, to be opened by summer 2012 and delivering up to two million passengers a year.
New routes from the Irish air carrier include flights to Barcelona, Brussels, Ibiza, Rome, Paris and Milan.
Starting from October two new aircraft will be based at the airport, bringing 250 new jobs immediately, expanding to four new planes and 26 routes by 2012.
Mr O'Leary, chief executive of the airline, told a press conference at Manchester Airport the expansion would create 2,000 new jobs both at the airport, with pilots, cabin crew and other work generated in the local economy.
"Ryanair is delighted to unveil Manchester as our 45th base with 26 routes,'' he said.
"It is great news for Ryanair, for Manchester and terrific news for the industry and local economy."
The announcement comes less than 18 months after the airline pulled out many routes in Manchester, in a dispute over costs. But the carrier recently struck a multi-million pound deal with the airport to introduce thousands of budget flights.
Mr O'Leary, wearing a Manchester City FC shirt, added: "It is like every marriage, you have to work at it. It is not always plain sailing, there's the occasional bust up, but making up is always better than breaking up.''
Mr O'Leary said the expansion would not damage trade at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport, which he said was continuing to expand.