A LOCALLY based airline has celebrated its 15th anniversary with the help of a pop icon.

Jet2.com marked the anniversary of its first day of flying with a day of events at Leeds Bradford Airport.

The airline's first flight was from the airport to Amsterdam in 2003, and yesterday saw staff that worked at the airline on the first day of operations, and on the company’s first ever flight, invited to take part in the anniversary.

They were joined by Peter Andre for the celebration.

The celebrity guest surprised customers at check-in and even boarded the aircraft to serenade customers and staff with a special ‘Happy Birthday’ rendition.

In the 15 years the airline has carried more than 65 million customers, and is looking at increasing the number of flights, destinations and customers in the coming year.

In its first year Jet2 had two aircraft serving nine destinations from Leeds Bradford. it has since grown to become the UK’s third largest airline with a fleet of 88 aircraft flying to 65 destinations from nine UK bases.

In 2001, in the run up to the airline's launch, it employed 300 staff. It currently employs 9,500, including 2,000 in Yorkshire.

Last year it started flying from from Birmingham and London Stansted.

From Leeds Bradford Airport alone, Jet2.com has carried over 23 million customers since 2003 and it now operates a fleet of 15 aircraft at the airport.

Phil Ward, managing director, told the Telegraph & Argus "Having Peter Andre here caused a bit of a stir, it was really good fun having him here. He was checking people in and getting selfies with a lot of kids. He didn't say no to anyone.

"I'm feeling very proud, in 15 years we've achieved a lot. We've gone from employing 300 people to employing 9,500.

"One of the best things has been the refreshing of our fleet, getting a delivery of the new 737s from Seattle."

He said the company had taken on more destinations following the collapse of Monarch Airlines last year. He added: "We are going to have 20 per cent more customers by Summer 2018, and we have welcomed customers from other airlines. We've increased our capacity."

Talking about the company's links with the airport he said: "We're very proud to have started in Leeds Bradford and we look to continue to carry a substantial amount of customers from Yorkshire's Airport.

For the last financial year the business increased revenues by 24 per cent to £1,565.8m.