Budget carriers to expand
EasyJet says Heathrow plan will cut fares by a third
EasyJet says Heathrow plan opens up competition
Adding a third runway at Heathrow will allow low cost carriers to operate a significant number of flights from the airport for the first time and cut fares by up to a third, it has been claimed.
Budget airline EasyJet says increased competition to legacy carriers will see lower fares on routes to existing UK and European destinations.
Currently the budget carrier operates out of four other London airports but not Heathrow. Sophie Dekkers, the airline’s commercial director, said EasyJet “would look to go into Heathrow at scale” given the chance.
The Heathrow expansion plan includes ring-fencing 15% of slots for domestic flights. The new entrants will 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 is urging MPs to support the third runway in the forthcoming Commons vote. It already operates from other hub airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles De Gaulle.
Since 2000 the number of UK destinations served by Heathrow has fallen from 14 to eight, while the total number of seats on its flights to Europe has dropped by 40%.
This is 200,000 fewer short haul seats per week today compared to 2000 – equivalent to the population of Dundee.
Heathrow’s plan to build a third runway was backed by the Cabinet last week and MPs will soon vote on the scheme.
EasyJet’s chief commercial and strategy officer Robert Carey said expanding Heathrow will provide significant benefits to all parts of the UK and is in the best interests of all passengers.
He said: “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.
Heathrow: expansion plans backed by Cabinet
“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.”
Mr Carey said expansion must be delivered sustainably, citing its use of Airbus A320neo aircraft which are quieter and use less fuel.
“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,” he said.
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.
EasyJet would also look to connect passengers to long haul destinations at Heathrow by using ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ – the first global airline connections service by a European low fares airline.
Launched in 2017, it enables customers to connect easyJet flights to long haul flights with a number of airline partners. easyJet is extending Worldwide to Berlin Tegel, Venice Marco Polo, Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Orly and Edinburgh airports.
This means that, combined with the connections previously announced through London Gatwick and Milan Malpensa, over half of the airline’s flights – and 53 million easyJet customers a year – will be able to connect to airline partner services and other easyJet flights in a single booking through easyJet’s digital booking portal.
EasyJet has taken delivery of five A320neo aircraft to date, with 95 on order for delivery by August 2022. In addition, easyJet has 30 A321neo aircraft on order, with the first delivery expected in July 2018. These aircraft have a 235 seat configuration.
The A321neo aircraft will enable easyJet to reduce its CO2 emissions as it provides an increase in seats per flight of around 30% compared to an A320 and 50% when replacing an A319 while benefitting from the lowest operating costs in the single aisle aircraft category.
EasyJet believes that for the first time the aviation industry can now envisage a future which isn’t wholly reliant on jet fuel, and its harmful CO2 and NOX emissions, and where its noise footprint is significantly reduced for all flights and completely eliminated for many.
The company has formed a partnership with Wright Electric to develop, build and operate an all-electric commercial passenger jet which could be flying across the airline’s UK and European network within a decade.
First China flights
The first Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing lands in Edinburgh today – the first ever direct flight from China to Scotland.
As announced in March, two flights a week will come to Edinburgh, following years of talks on the Edinburgh-China Air Link Project involving Marketing Edinburgh, Edinburgh Airport and the City of Edinburgh Council.
As one of the most valuable tourism markets worldwide, which has already contributed £26.5 million to Edinburgh’s economy pre-flight, the new route from China is expected to bring increased spending across the board, with shops, restaurants, attractions and hotels directly benefiting from a starting capacity of an additional 29,000 Chinese visitors in the city.