EasyJet (styled as easyJet; LSE: EZJ) is a British airline carrier based at London Luton Airport. It is the largest airline of the United Kingdom, by number of passengers carried, operating domestic and international scheduled services on over 700 routes in 32 countries. EasyJet plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. EasyGroup Holdings Ltd (the investment vehicle of EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his family) is the largest shareholder with a 34.62% stake (as of July 2014). As of 30 September 2014, it employed more than 8,900 people, based throughout Europe but mainly in the UK.
EasyJet has seen rapid expansion since its establishment in 1995, having grown through a combination of acquisitions and base openings fuelled by consumer demand for low-cost air travel. The airline, along with associate company EasyJet Switzerland, operates more than 200 aircraft, mostly Airbus A319. It has 24 bases across Europe, the largest being Gatwick. In 2014, EasyJet carried more than 65 million passengers and is the second-largest low-cost carrier in Europe, behind Ryanair.
EasyJet was featured in the television series Airline broadcast on ITV which followed the airline's operations at London Luton and later at other bases.
The airline was established in 1995 as part of the EasyGroup conglomerate. It was launched by Greek Cypriot businessman Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou with two wet leased Boeing 737-200 aircraft, initially operating two routes: London Luton to Glasgow and Edinburgh. In April 1996, the first wholly owned aircraft was delivered to EasyJet, enabling its first international route, to Amsterdam. Until October 1997, the aircraft were operated by GB Airways and subsequently by Air Foyle as EasyJet had not yet received its Air Operator's Certificate.
EasyJet was floated on the London Stock Exchange on 5 November 2000. In October 2004 the FL Group, owner of the airlines Icelandair and Sterling, purchased an 8.4% stake in EasyJet. Over the course of 2005, FL increased its share in the company periodically to 16.9%, fuelling speculation that it would mount a takeover bid for the UK carrier. However, in April 2006 the threat of takeover receded as FL sold its stake for €325 million, securing a profit of €140m on its investment. In November 2005, Ray Webster stood down after 10 years as EasyJet's chief executive officer (CEO) and was replaced by former RAC plc CEO, Andrew Harrison.
Expansion and acquisitions
EasyJet has expanded greatly since its establishment, driven by high demand from both the United Kingdom and continental Europe. As part of this, EasyJet has also purchased several rival airlines, including GB Airways.
Go Fly Boeing 737-300 in 2004
In March 1998, EasyJet purchased a 40% stake in Swiss charter airline TEA Basle for three million Swiss Francs. The airline was renamed EasyJet Switzerland and commenced franchise services on 1 April 1999, having relocated its headquarters to Geneva International Airport. This was EasyJet's first new base outside the United Kingdom. In 2002, EasyJet purchased rival airline, London Stansted-based Go for £374 million. EasyJet inherited three new bases from Go, at Bristol Airport, East Midlands Airport and London Stansted Airport. The acquisition of Go almost doubled the number of Boeing 737-300 aircraft in the EasyJet fleet.
In 2002, EasyJet opened its base at Gatwick Airport, and between 2003 and 2007 opened bases in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, establishing a sizeable presence in continental Europe. In 2007, EasyJet claimed to be operating more flights per day than any other European airline.
On 25 October 2007 EasyJet purchased the entire share capital of GB Airways from the Bland Group. The deal was worth £103.5 million and used by the airline to expand operations at Gatwick, and also to establish a base at Manchester Airport.
In June 2011, EasyJet opened of its 11th UK base at London Southend Airport, offering flights to Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast International, Faro, Malaga, Jersey, Palma de Majorca and Ibiza.
In March 2013, EasyJet and its CFO Chris Kennedy celebrated the airline's promotion to the FTSE 100 and launched its 100th route from Gatwick Airport, offering flights directly from London to Moscow.
In Spring 2014, EasyJet opened its 23rd European base, in Hamburg, with 3 A319 aircraft, and 15 additional routes added to the 6 currently served from the airport. Additionally, it opened its smallest base in Naples. Current plans indicate that only two aircraft will be based there and just 20 routes served.
EasyJet, like Ryanair, borrows a business model popularized by Southwest Airlines. Both airlines have adapted this model for the European market through further cost-cutting measures such as not selling connecting flights or providing complimentary snacks on board. The key points of this business model are high aircraft utilisation, quick turnaround times, charging for extras (such as priority boarding, hold baggage and food) and keeping operating costs low. One main difference EasyJet and Ryanair have from Southwest is they both fly a young fleet of aircraft. Southwest has an average fleet age of 11.9 years whereas Ryanair's and EasyJet's average fleet ages are just a little over five years each.
Initially, EasyJet's employment strategy was to maintain control with minimal union involvement. In recent years, the airline has adopted a more committed approach with a strategy in place to accommodate unions.
While the two airlines share a common business charter and concept, EasyJet's strategy differs from Ryanair's in several areas. The most noticeable is that EasyJet flies mainly to the primary airports in the cities that it serves, for the convenience of passengers, while Ryanair often chooses secondary airports to further reduce costs. For example, in servicing Paris, EasyJet flies to Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport, the primary airports, while Ryanair flies to the smaller Beauvais-Tillé Airport, 53 miles and a 75-minute bus journey from Paris. To service Rome, all EasyJet services are out of Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, while the majority of Ryanair's services to Rome use Ciampino–G. B. Pastine International Airport. EasyJet also focuses on attracting business passengers by offering convenient services such as the "Flexi fare" which allows free of charge changes to the flight within a window, speedy boarding and a checked in bag.
Originally, much like Southwest, EasyJet did not allocate seats – passengers took any available seats, with the option to pay for "Speedy Boarding" and be first onto the aircraft. However, since 2012, all passengers are allocated numbered seats before boarding commences, as it was found that this does not slow down boarding times and could earn more revenue than Speedy Boarding. Passengers can pay an additional fee for certain seats such as the front few rows and overwing seats (which have extra legroom).
Hangar 89 at London Luton Airport, EasyJet head office
EasyJet's head office is Hangar 89 (H89), a building located on the grounds of London Luton Airport in Luton, Bedfordshire; the hangar, a former Britannia Airways/TUI facility, is located 150 metres (490 ft) from EasyLand, the previous headquarters of EasyJet. Hangar 89, built in 1974, has 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) of office space and can house three aircraft the size of an Airbus A319 at one time. When EasyJet received H89, it had a 1970s-style office setup. EasyJet modernised the building and painted it orange.
EasyJet's early marketing strategy was based on "making flying as affordable as a pair of jeans" and urged travellers to "cut out the travel agent". Its early advertising consisted of little more than the airline's telephone booking number painted in bright orange on the side of its aircraft.
The Airline TV series created by LWT and filmed between 1999 and 2007 made EasyJet a household name in the United Kingdom. The series, while not always portraying EasyJet in a positive light, did much to promote the airline during this time. EasyJet has used a number of slogans since its establishment including "The Web's Favourite Airline" (a reflection on the airline's cheeky and cheerful image), "Come on, lets fly" and "To Fly, To Save" (a cheeky take on British Airways' slogan "To Fly, To Serve"). This was then followed by "(something) by EasyJet" with "Europe by EasyJet" and "business by EasyJet" being the most widely used.
It currently uses the slogan "This is Generation easyJet".
In June 2007, EasyJet announced plans for construction of its own airliner, dubbed EcoJet. Featuring propfan engines, the EcoJet would feature an improvement in fuel efficiency. It would be constructed with extensive use of carbon fibre composite material. The date for the first flight was to be in 2015. As of October 2014, no concrete information has been released on the proposed airliner.
EasyJet is offering the possibility to carbon offset the CO2 to its customers' trips for a surcharge via a calculator which calculates a passenger's carbon footprint.
In February 2011, EasyJet painted eight of its aircraft with a lightweight, thin "revolutionary nano technology coating" polymer. It works by reducing build-up of debris and reduces drag across the surface of the aircraft, thus reducing the fuel bill. It is estimated the airline could save 1–2% annually, equating to a £14 million reduction in fuel costs. The idea has already been used by US military aircraft and if successful EasyJet will apply the paint to its whole fleet.
EasyJet has also come under criticism in Germany for not observing European Union law on compensation (and assistance to passengers) in cases of denied boarding, delays or cancellations (Regulation 261/2004). In the case of cancellation, passengers should be reimbursed within one week. In 2006, EasyJet did not always refund tickets in a timely fashion. Passengers occasionally had to wait longer for reimbursement of their expenses.
EasyJet has campaigned to replace the air passenger duty (APD) tax in the UK with a new tax that varies depending on distance travelled and aircraft type.
In July 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority criticised a press campaign by EasyJet for a misleading environmental claim that its aircraft released 22% fewer emissions than rival airlines. The figures used were not based on emissions produced by an EasyJet aircraft or emissions produced by EasyJet airline overall as the ad implied, and ASA declared that the airline had broken advertising rules. The judgement that followed reprimanded the airline in April 2007 after it made comments that its aircraft created 30% less pollution per passenger than some of its rivals.
In July 2011, the airline tried to refuse admission of a boy with muscular dystrophy because he had an electric wheelchair. In separate incidents in 2012, paralympians received similar treatment, and a French court found the airline guilty of three counts of disability discrimination.
In September 2013, it was reported that a law lecturer who sent a tweet complaining about EasyJet after his flight was delayed said he was initially told he would not be allowed to board the plane because of the posting.
Main article: EasyJet destinations
EasyJet's five largest bases in order of size are London–Gatwick, Milan–Malpensa, London–Luton, Bristol and London–Stansted. Toulouse airport is currently the airline's smallest base with two aircraft.
EasyJet flies in a point to point model rather than the more traditional airline hub and spoke model where the passengers have to change aircraft in transit at a major airport. EasyJet prefers to fly to larger or primary airports usually close to major cities. For example EasyJet flies to the main Düsseldorf airport, instead of Weeze, the secondary airport used by competitor Ryanair, which is 70 km away from the city. Primary airports are not always close to the city they serve and in fact can be further than the city's minor airport, this is the case at Belfast, Gothenburg and Rome and in these cases, EasyJet still prefer to serve the major airport.
EasyJet has 19 European 'bases'. Despite EasyJet being a British airline and having a significant presence there, it has a significant presence in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and many other European countries. The United Kingdom is its biggest market, containing the airlines largest base and nine others as well as a total of six other non-base airports. Its three largest British bases in order of size are London's Gatwick and Luton airports followed by Bristol. Stansted was once the second largest base but has seen significant reduction in recent years with flights being moved to Gatwick and the newest UK base, Southend which is in the same catchment area as Stansted.
EasyJet's largest competitor is Ryanair, which unlike EasyJet has a focus on smaller or secondary airports and in recent years, has started targeting holiday makers. EasyJet focuses heavily on business passengers but operates a greater variety of holiday destinations than Ryanair. However, EasyJet has a very low presence at holiday destinations like Greece with limited frequencies and only a small number of airports to fly from. Ryanair's is much higher, especially at the Canary Islands and some Greek Islands, in particular Kos and Rhodes. Ryanair often refers to EasyJet as a high fares airline but EasyJet often criticises Ryanair for its choice of airports.
EasyJet entered a commercial agreement with Transaero Airlines to set up a codeshare agreement whereby Transaero acquire the right to sell a certain number of seats on EasyJet LGW-DME route. The agreement was signed by Olga Pleshakova, CEO Transaero Airlines, and Chris Kennedy, Chief Financial Officer for EasyJet. According to the agreement, Transaero Airlines will distribute a proportion of seats on EasyJet flights on the Moscow (Domodedovo) – London (Gatwick) route. This agreement applies to the flights since 27 October 2013 that are operated under the following codes: from London UN7401/U28401 and UN7403/U28403 as well as from Moscow UN7402/U28402 and UN7404/U28404. This is the first codeshare agreement for EasyJet. Low cost airlines usually do not rely on codeshare agreements, as they operate a point-point route network.
EasyJet Airbus A319
EasyJet Airbus A320 with the fuselage colours inverted (white text and orange fuselage instead of orange text and white fuselage)
EasyJet Airbus A319 with the new livery.
The EasyJet fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of February 2015):
Aircraft In Service Orders Options Passengers Notes
Airbus A319-100 135 — — 156 Largest A319 Operator
Airbus A320-200 67 66 — 180
Airbus A320neo — 100 100 180 Deliveries 2017–2022
Total 202 166 100
EasyJet is the largest operator of the Airbus A319. Associate company EasyJet Switzerland operates 15 Airbus A319 and 11 Airbus A320 aircraft under Swiss registrations, in addition to the above.
Fleet strategy and aircraft orders
In common with most other low-cost carriers, EasyJet has a philosophy of operating just one aircraft type. Initially it used Boeing 737 aircraft exclusively, but in October 2002 it ordered 120 Airbus A319 aircraft, plus 120 options, with CFM56-5B engines. Since then, the Boeings have been phased out and all orders have been from the Airbus A320 family.
EasyJet's Airbus A319 aircraft were first introduced to EasyJet's Geneva base in October 2003. Due to toilet and galley configuration allowing the installation of more seats than a standard Airbus A319, EasyJet's Airbus A319 aircraft have two pairs of overwing exits instead of the standard one pair configuration to satisfy safety requirements.
Beginning in December 2006, the airline started to return the Boeing 737-700 aircraft to their lessors. All of the 737 aircraft were removed from the fleet by November 2011.
Through the acquisition of GB Airways, EasyJet inherited nine Airbus A320 and six Airbus A321 aircraft. This gave the airline some time to evaluate the feasibility of operating these larger gauge aircraft. Based on this evaluation, EasyJet exchanged 25 A319 orders for A320s in July 2008 and later removed the A321 aircraft from the fleet.
In summer 2010, EasyJet wet leased some 757s to provide sufficient seating capacity. They were returned soon after.
On 18 June 2013 the airline announced an intention to acquire subject to shareholder approval 35 Airbus A320 aircraft, for delivery between 2015 and 2017, and 100 Airbus A320neo aircraft for delivery between 2017 and 2022. As part of the agreement the airline will have purchase rights on a further 100 A320neo aircraft. The current generation A320s and fifty of the A320neos will replace current aircraft.
For the Summer 2014 season, EasyJet plans to wet-lease an Airbus A320 and Boeing 757-200 from Titan Airways to provide a capacity increase. The A320 will be based at Rome Fiumicino from the end of May to late October and the Boeing 757-200 will based at London Gatwick from July to the end of September. Both aircraft will receive full EasyJet livery prior to their entry into service and will be fitted with EasyJet's new cabin seating and carpets.
EasyJet has operated the following types of aircraft:
Aircraft Introduced Retired Seating Notes
Airbus A319-100 2004 — 156 In service
Airbus A320-200 2008 — 180 In service
Airbus A321-200 2008 2010 220 Inherited from GB Airways
Boeing 737-300 1996 2007 148/9 Replaced by A319s
Boeing 737-700 2000 2011 149 Replaced by A319s and A320s
Boeing 737-300 in telephone number livery
Initially booking was by telephone only, with all EasyJet aircraft painted with the booking telephone number. There is no incentive for travel agents to sell EasyJet bookings because there is no commission, a standard practice for the low cost carriers.
In December 1997, Russell Sheffield of Tableau, one of EasyJet's design and adverting agencies, suggested to Stelios Haji-Ioannou that he should consider trialling a website for direct bookings. Haji-Ioannou's reply was "The Internet is for nerds, it will never make money for my business!". However Tony Anderson, EasyJet's marketing director and Michael Coltman, EasyJet's business manager, saw the potential and approved a website trial involving putting a different telephone reservations number on the website, to track success. Once Haji-Ioannou saw the results he changed his mind and EasyJet commissioned Tableau as partners to develop an e-commerce website capable of offering real-time online booking from April 1998—the first low cost carrier to do so in Europe.
In December 2001, EasyJet switched from a third-party reservation system to an in-house system designed and developed for them by BulletProof Technologies, Inc. Internet bookings were priced cheaper than booking over the phone, to reflect the reduced call centre costs and the aircraft were repainted with the web address. Within a year over 50% of bookings were made using the web site; by April 2004 the figure had jumped to 98%. Now, flights can be booked either via the Internet, or by phone within 3 months of the flight.
Cabin and onboard services
EasyJet Airbus A319 cabin
EasyJet's aircraft cabins are configured in a single class, high density layout.
The airline's main fleet, comprising Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft, carry up to 156 and 180 passengers respectively, depending on layout. A typical Airbus A319 carries approximately 140 passengers in a single class configuration, but as EasyJet does not serve meals on its shorter flights, the airline opted for smaller galleys and had a lavatory installed in unused space at the rear of the aircraft. The space saved by having smaller galleys allowed for the installation of 156 seats. Due to this seating arrangement, EasyJet's Airbus A319 aircraft have two pairs of overwing exits, instead of the standard one pair configuration found on most Airbus A319 aircraft, to satisfy safety requirements.
EasyJet does not provide complimentary meals or beverages on board its flights (apart for some occasional charter flights operated by the airline). Passengers may purchase items on board from the "EasyJet Bistro" buy on board programme. Products include sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, chocolate, snacks, hot drinks, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks. Onboard sales are an important part of the airline's ancillary revenue. EasyJet also sells gifts such as fragrances, cosmetics, gadgets and EasyJet-branded items on board, as well as tickets for airport transfer services or train tickets. The EasyJet magazine called "The Traveller" is published monthly and as other airline magazines, is free to go.
EasyJet had previously provided in-flight entertainment (IFE) in some aircraft (the ex GB Airways fleet), using drop-down screens on some Airbus aircraft. During some of 2009 and 2010 it also provided passengers with the ability to rent portable Sony media players with movies and games on selected flights. During 2011 and 2012 Mezzo devices were available to rent on selected flights from Manchester and Gatwick. IFE has now been completely discontinued. EasyJet has headphones available to purchase, along with a travel pillow and eyeshades, subject to stock. EasyJet provides an in-flight magazine, published monthly, containing articles of interest to its customers and destination guides. As of May 2010, EasyJet has been selling copies of Hello, and The Sunday Times, all at cover price. The Times is also available on board, at a price of £1, subject to stock.
EasyJet Hotels and EasyJet Holidays
On 14 December 2004, EasyJet and Hotelopia, a subsidiary of First Choice Holidays, launched the co-branded EasyJetHotels accommodation booking service. EasyJetHotels offers accommodation products throughout the EasyJet network. Customers booking flights through the EasyJet website are provided with quotes for a number of hotels at their destination. Alternatively, customers can book accommodation separately at the EasyJetHotels website.
On 28 June 2007, EasyJet expanded its relationship with Hotelopia by launching EasyJetHolidays, which offers Travel Trust Association protected package holidays made up of EasyJet flights and Hotelopia accommodation products.
On 6 November 2010, EasyJet started a venture with Low Cost Travel Group to offer EasyJet flights, dynamically packaged with Low Cost Travel Group's accommodation through the EasyJet Holidays website. As of March 2011, EasyJet Holidays has provided holidays and city breaks to all EasyJet routes