easyJet says it would fly from Heathrow, “if it was right for us” debunking Gatwick’s Heathrow myth
Gatwick airport, in its bid to try to pursuade the powers-that-be of its suitability as the site of a new runway, has often said that the low cost airlines would not fly from Heathrow. However, easyJet has now said that it would consider flying from an expanded Heathrow. Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, said it would look at flying from Heathrow in future “if it was right for us”, and it if wasn’t too expensive. Gatwick claims that the increase in demand for air travel will be for short haul flights, mainly to Europe or countries adjacent to Europe. Heathrow claims the demand for air travel in future will be long haul. According to Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, Heathrow is inaccessible for low-cost airlines and charter carriers due to its high landing charges. But Ms McCall points out that easyJet already flies to and from other hub airports in Europe, such as Schiphol, Rome Fiumicino and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Though Heathrow has high landing charges, so do the other European hub airports. Ms McCall made her comments shortly after easyJet announced a 7-year pricing deal with Gatwick and revealed it is in discussions to take over the airport’s north terminal, potentially forcing out British Airways. It made no mention of a 2nd Gatwick runway.
easyJet debunks Gatwick’s Heathrow myth
Chief executive of budget carrier dismisses Gatwick’s view that Heathrow prices out low-cost airlines
easyJet announced a seven-year pricing deal with Gatwick and revealed it is in discussions to take over the airport’s north terminal Photo: PA
By Nathalie Thomas (Telegraph)
27 Mar 2014
easyJet, the UK’s biggest airline, would consider flying from an expanded Heathrow, blowing a hole in one of rival airport Gatwick’s main arguments for why it should have the right to build Britain’s next runway.
Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, said the budget carrier would look at flying from Heathrow in future “if it was right for us”, debunking the myth that the west London hub prices out low-cost airlines.
Setting its case for a second runway earlier this week, Gatwick insisted it offered the best location for the next runway in the south-east of England as it caters for low-cost carriers, which are expanding at a much faster rate than legacy airlines, and meet overwhelming demand for short-haul flights to Europe.
Although businesses in the UK are keen to establish better air links with destinations in far-flung emerging markets, the bulk of demand in future will continue to be for short-haul to Europe, the West Sussex airport insisted.
According to Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, Heathrow is inaccessible for low-cost airlines and charter carriers due to its high landing charges.
However, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Ms McCall contested Gatwick’s assertions, pointing out that easyJet already flies to and from other hub airports in Europe, such as Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
“We fly out of Charles de Gaulle, we fly out of [Rome] Fiumicino, which is Alitalia’s hub, we are the number two airline out of Schiphol, which is a hub,” Ms McCall said. “If it was right for us to fly out of Heathrow…we would consider flying out of Heathrow.”
She added: “I don’t think they [Heathrow] keep out low-cost airlines, they are highly priced but so is Frankfurt, so is Charles de Gaulle, so is Schiphol.”
Heathrow is currently operating close to capacity but is in a head-to-head battle with rival Gatwick to persuade Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission that it offers the better solution to meet aviation capacity needs in the South East up to 2030.
Ms McCall made her comments shortly after easyJet announced a seven-year pricing deal with Gatwick and revealed it is in discussions to take over the airport’s north terminal, potentially forcing out British Airways.
A new runway, either at Heathrow or Gatwick, will not open for more than a decade, forcing airlines to make best use of the existing capacity. easyJet, which is the UK’s largest airline by passenger numbers, is already Gatwick’s biggest customer. The airport accounts for about a quarter of easyJet’s entire network – the equivalent of 14m-15m passengers a year – and Ms McCall said consolidating its operations in one terminal would help it to introduce more technology and improve efficiency. However, the move could result in British Airways, which occupies Terminal 5 at Heathrow, having to transfer to Gatwick’s smaller south terminal. easyJet plans to further increase its passenger numbers at Gatwick by around 10% in the year to March 2015 alone, Ms McCall said.
easyJet has also opened its latest European base at Naples airport, as it attempts to win passengers from Italian flag carrier Alitalia.
British Airways offers cheaper ‘day trip’ fares
Cut-price fares launched for those wanting to spend just a day overseas. But is six hours in Rome really worth it?
The longest that BA’s flight schedule would allow anyone in Rome for example, would be a rather short six hours
By Natalie Paris and Oliver Smith (Telegraph)
5 Mar 2014
British Airways is offering what it claims to be “affordable day trip” tickets for anyone wanting to fly to popular city break destinations and back on the same day
The airline is offering the return fares, from Heathrow Airport only, to Dublin (from £79); Edinburgh (from £89); Geneva (from £79); Vienna (from £99); Munich (from £99) and Rome (from £89).
The flights are for those travelling with hand luggage only and are for departures on Saturdays or Sundays.
At first glance, these seem like fairly good prices, when compared to the cost of adding together two single tickets through BA. But low-cost rivals still outflank the carrier. A quick look at Ryanair’s website reveals that a day return to Dublin on a typical April weekend, for example, can be found for as little £43.78 (also hand luggage only).
Prices aside, would a day trip to Europe be worth it? The longest that BA’s flight schedule would allow anyone in Rome for example, would be around nine hours – six if you take an earlier flight home – including time spent at the airports at each end. Dublin would be a better bet. A day tripper to the Irish capital could spend up to 12 hours exploring the city, including time to get to and from the airport.
Telegraph Travel ran a quick spot check on the BA website (www.ba.com) when the news was announced today to see what sort of prices we could find.
The day return tickets are not labelled as such, so took a little tracking down.
Day returns for Dublin were available for the advertised price of £79 for some weekends in March and throughout April and May. Same-day flights into and out of Edinburgh could be found for £89 during weekends in April, and return fares to Geneva were available for £79.
But the advertised prices for day returns to Munich and Rome were much harder to come by.
Taking Rome as an example, we only managed to find one available return fare between now and May 24 for £89. The price of a return on the first flight into Rome and last back to Heathrow on other weekend dates in March, April and May, variously cost from £169 up to £801 (on March 15).
BA said it could not reveal how many day trip tickets were set aside for each destination, due to the information being “commercially sensitive”, but admitted that availability changes depending on the route.
The fares are only available on flights departing at the start and the end of the day but travellers have a choice between two early or two late flights in some destinations.
Encouraging travellers to fly twice in a day might anger environmentalists. When asked to comment on the effect of such short trips, a spokesman said: “It’s the customer’s choice and they can offset their carbon emissions on the BA website if they wish to.”
The airline said it intends to roll out the fares to other European cities from Heathrow in future, where its flight schedules allow it.
Gatwick Airport’s PR campaign, which they call “Gatwick Obviously“ says, under the heading, “The Future” :
“As the popularity of low cost airlines has boomed, Gatwick has made more low cost flights available. EasyJet is now one of our largest and best known airlines. As short-haul and medium-haul flights have increased, Gatwick has offered more of these routes to its passengers, now providing 45 of the top 50 European routes for example”
EASYJET AND GATWICK AIRPORT AGREE NEW SEVEN YEAR GROWTH AND SERVICE IMPROVEMENT DEAL
27.3.2014 (EasyJet press release)
easyJet today announced that it has agreed a new seven year deal with Gatwick Airport (GAL) from April 2014 which will incentivise the airline to grow at the airport and provide the framework for easyJet and GAL to further improve customer experience for easyJet’s passengers.
Carolyn McCall, easyJet CEO commented on the deal:
“Gatwick is our largest base so it is of strategic importance to secure this new agreement with Gatwick Airport. easyJet shares the CAA’s view that Gatwick has market power but also supports the move towards a more commercial arrangement with the airport within a regulatory framework.
“This agreement gives easyJet certainty on passenger charges over the next seven years and a clear incentive to continue to grow. More importantly, it will create a framework for easyJet and Gatwick to plan and deliver an improved experience for our passengers.
“Our shared ambition is for Gatwick to be both our biggest and best airport.”
Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said:
“This partnership with easyJet is a landmark deal in London Gatwick’s history. Four years after the end of the BAA monopoly at the airport, this partnership highlights how far we have come to be able to operate within a new framework of commitments and contracts. For passengers travelling with easyJet, they will have more choice, competitive fares and an even better experience. It is positive news for both business and leisure passengers travelling with easyJet from Gatwick.”
easyJet plans to continue to grow at Gatwick through increasing our slots and by deploying larger aircraft as easyJet replaces 156 seat A319s with 180 seat A320s and, from 2017, A320Neos. In the next year (end March 2015) alone the airline will increase capacity and passenger numbers by around 10% compared to the previous year.
The agreement has been reached within the new ‘commitments’ framework which will replace the current regulatory regime as confirmed by the CAA last year.
easyJet started flying from London Gatwick Airport in 1999 and now has 57 aircraft based there, operating on 108 routes. The airline has around 1400 cabin crew and 700 pilots operating from the airport.