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easyJet: Expanded Heathrow would lead to lower fares and new UK and European routes

Posted on in Other news

easyJet, the UK’s largest airline, confirmed today that the expansion of Heathrow Airport would allow the entry of low cost carriers to the airport at scale for the first time which would lead to the launch of new services to UK and European airports not currently served by Heathrow providing important economic connections to the UK’s only hub airport.

The following Press Release has been issued by easyJet today:

Passengers would benefit from the increased competition to legacy carriers and would enjoy fares around 30% lower on routes to existing UK and European destinations.  The new entrants would also launch flights to UK and European airports not currently served by Heathrow providing important economic connections to the UK’s only hub airport.

easyJet encouraged UK airports and their local, regional and national Governments and other business and development agencies to make the most compelling case for their airport to be connected to Heathrow.

The decline of UK and European flights from Heathrow

Passengers flying to and from Heathrow Airport have seen a sustained reduction in routes and flights to the UK and Europe.  From 2000 to 2017 total passengers at Heathrow grew by 21% and flights across Europe as a whole grew by 91%.  However, at Heathrow during the same period there has been a:

  • 40% decrease in number of domestic flight seats
  • 13% decrease in European flight seats
  • Reduction in UK destinations served from 14 to 8

That’s 200,000 fewer short haul seats per week today compared to 2000 – the equivalent to the population of York or Dundee.

Due to its constrained capacity Heathrow’s passengers have been denied the benefits of the low cost aviation revolution and routes today remain dominated by expensive, inefficient flag carriers.

Low cost v legacy airline

Typically when easyJet enters an airport in competition with legacy airlines it can offer fares around 30% lower. This is because easyJet’s low cost operating model delivers a cost per passenger significantly lower than those airlines – and Heathrow would be no exception.

This is driven by a range of factors – such as using one type of aircraft which easyJet buys at a very competitive rate and which all its pilots, crew and engineers can operate, higher seat density and higher load factors. The airline is obsessed with reducing waste and weight on its aircraft and has light weight seats, carpets and trollies. Being low cost is in easyJet’s DNA – almost all passenger contact is on line and its HQ is in an aircraft hangar.

Robert Carey, easyJet’s Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, outlined the airline’s views on Heathrow today at the British-Irish Airports Expo, Olympia London:

“easyJet supported the Airports Commission’s clear and unanimous recommendation and agrees that expansion at Heathrow will provide the greatest passenger and economic benefits, including lower fares by opening up the airport to increased competition.

“Expansion at Heathrow will bring significant benefits to all parts of the UK and is in the best interests of all passengers – both business and leisure, long and short haul.

“This expansion would enable low cost airlines like easyJet to operate from Heathrow (in addition to existing London bases) allowing them to provide new routes and increased competition on dozens more UK and European routes.

“easyJet’s costs are significantly lower than legacy airlines so easyJet’s fares on these services would be lower than those paid by passengers today.

“We look forward to engaging with the UK’s regional airports and their Governments and other local organisations to work out which regions will enjoy the largest growth in passenger demand and economic benefits from new connections to Heathrow and the rest of the world.

“Expansion at Heathrow must be delivered sustainably.  Local noise and environmental impacts need to be addressed and easyJet supports the Commission’s recommendations on these issues.

“easyJet will bring our long term environmental strategy, a key element of which is the next generation Airbus A320 neo aircraft. These aircraft produce 15% less carbon emissions and are 50% quieter than current generation aircraft.  We are taking delivery of 130 of these aircraft and all will be flying with easyJet before the new runway opens at Heathrow.

“Expansion at Heathrow will bring significant economic benefits to all of the UK and that’s why we urge MPs to support the Government’s National Planning Statement so that work can start to increase the aviation capacity for the UK. ”

Typically when easyJet enters an airport in competition with legacy airlines it can offer fares around 30% lower. This is because easyJet’s low cost operating model delivers a cost per passenger significantly lower than those airlines – and Heathrow would be no exception.

easyJet

easyJet’s operations at Heathrow

The airline has been working closely with Heathrow for a number of years and has been able to confirm that low cost operations would be viable at Heathrow.

This would include easyJet’s requirements for its ‘walk in, walk out’ boarding process and 25-minute aircraft turnaround time.  easyJet and Heathrow Airport agreed an Indicative Operating Framework in 2015 on these practicalities.

An easyJet base at Heathrow would be in line with easyJet’s strategy of flying between Europe’s primary airports with strong demand from leisure and business passengers.  easyJet already operates successfully from other hub airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles De Gaulle.