Posted on: 12 June 2018 by Mark Howells
easyJet has flagged up the expansion plans for Heathrow Airport in the UK as an enabler that would allow low-fare carriers to utilise the airport at scale for the first time.
Increased competition for legacy carriers would result in passenger fares falling by around 30% on routes to existing UK and European destinations, it says, while new entrants would also be able to launch flights to UK and European airports not currently served by Heathrow.
Speaking at the Heathrow Connectivity Conference in London, Robert Carey, chief commercial and strategy officer, 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.
“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.”
The addition of a third runway would enable low cost carriers like easyJet to operate from Heathrow (in addition to its existing London bases) and allow them “to provide new routes and increased competition on dozens more UK and European routes.”
Due to its constrained capacity Heathrow’s passengers have been denied the benefits of the low-cost aviation revolution and routes remain dominated by expensive, inefficient flag carriers, he said.
Reduction in routes & flights
According to easyJet, passengers flying to and from Heathrow 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 the number of domestic flight seats, a 13% fall in European flight seats and a reduction in UK destinations served from 14 to eight. This, it points out, is 200,000 fewer short-haul seats per week today compared to 2000.
Carey added that the airline looked 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.”
easyJet has been working closely with Heathrow for a number of years and has confirmed that low-cost operations would be viable there, including its requirements for its ‘walk in, walk out’ boarding process and 25-minute aircraft turnaround time. An easyJet base at Heathrow would be in line with its strategy of flying between Europe’s primary airports with strong demand from leisure and business passengers. It already operates successfully from other hub airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles De Gaulle.
The budget airline is due to take delivery of 130 Airbus A320neo aircraft before a new runway opens at Heathrow. It has so far taken delivery of five, with 95 on order for delivery by August 2022. It also has 30 235-seater A321neo aircraft on order, with the first expected to be delivered next month.