European low fare carrier easyJet believes its new ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ connections offering, a first among the European low fare airline industry will become a major disruptor to the long-standing interline agreements between legacy carriers that are the framework of the industry and will deliver enhanced choice to customers.
Legacy airlines have traditionally offered connectivity through costly and complex interline and codeshare agreements and procedures – with Worldwide by easyJet these will be replicated by self-connect and sales partnerships through a digital, virtual hub which will offer the same sort of connectivity but more simply and efficiently.
In the first instance it will enables customer to seamlessly connect easyJet flights into London Gatwick with partner airline flights with launch partners WestJet and Norwegian using the already established GatwickConnects product. easyJet says research shows that around 200,000 of its passengers self-connect at Gatwick – currently booking separate easyJet flights and the GatwickConnects product themselves in three different transactions.
“Because of easyJet’s strong positions at Europe’s leading airports and our customer focus long haul carriers have been asking to work with easyJet for some time and the new technology platform has now allowed us to do so,” explains Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s soon to depart chief executive officer.
“Our own customers and those who fly with other airlines, short and long haul, have also asked us to make it easier to connect with easyJet flights and this simple booking platform makes it easy for them to do so,” she adds.
While this new disruptive product opens up new options for almost 70 million passengers already flying through airports served by easyJet and connecting on to other flights, mainly long haul, it will not exactly rival the connection options offered by leading hub carriers across Europe, where minimum connection times are generally less than an hour.
To maintain the robustness of its own and partner networks easyJet confirms the concept will be subject to a 2 hour 30 minute minimum connection time to allow customers plenty of time to transfer between flights and/or terminals. As per conventional interline partnerships and through ticket bookings, should a passenger miss a connecting flight they will be transferred to the next available flight.
Alongside the short to long haul connection options with Norwegian and WestJet at London Gatwick, Worldwide by easyJet will also allow passengers to connect between easyJet’s own flights. Discussions are currently taking place to add new partners and additional connections at other key European airports such as Milan Malpensa, Geneva, Amsterdam, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Barcelona.
easyJet also plans to expand the concept further into the Middle East and Asian markets where talks are already “far advanced”. The new platform also enables easyJet to start selling tickets on behalf of partner airlines with complementary networks; the first being newly independent UK carrier, Loganair, Scotland’s new national carrier and will enable onward booking options from both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
As easyJet’s largest departure point and expanding long haul operations from London Gatwick, it is a strong platform to the launch the new concept and while the airline may struggle to initially struggle to secure strong corporate and premium traffic via its low cost long haul partners, it will certainly capture a lot of individual business travellers – a notable market in its own right – and leisure demand.
Peter Duffy, chief commercial officer for easyJet, says the product has been conceived so the airline can “profitably access a major new pool of customers” without undermining easyJet’s operating model and punctuality. While Ryanair have been shouting for a couple of years about becoming the ‘Amazon of air travel’, its largest low-fare rival is now making considerable inroads into the new distribution era leveraging on the 360 million visitors it has to its easyjet.com portal every year.
Peter Duffy will be among the speakers at the CAPA-ACTE Global Summit taking place at the Sofitel London Heathrow in London between 11-13 October 2017. Engage with the greatest minds in aviation and business travel by joining the world’s Airline Leaders and Corporate Travel Executives. Check out the planned agenda and sign up now!