8 JUNE 2015
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With the Aviation Commission recommendation for a third London runway due imminently easyJet (EZY) has joined the debate with Chief Executive Carolyn McCall stating that the airline would bid for slots if Heathrow were to be expanded.
Speaking in Milan last week at the airline’s European Innovation Day she said. “If it gets another runway we would seriously look at operating from Heathrow. We’re very serious about that.”
But should easyJet look at it now rather than in 10 years’ time?
What this announcement has exposed is Willie Walsh’s (CEO of International Airlines Group and parent company of BA) supposed indifference to the Commission and any future plans for Heathrow. He likes the status quo. easyJet competition would make him very nervous. BA is in withdrawal at Gatwick. All because of EZY.
With the closure of the Virgin Red route to Edinburgh in September British Airways will have a total monopoly of services from Scotland into what is one of the world’s most important hubs. The possible takeover of Aer Lingus will only highlight the situation.
Ms McCall says that it is not practical for easyJet to offer a limited operation at Heathrow, but at the same time emphasised that the airline served most of the major airports in Europe very successfully.
It seems to Business Travel News that easyJet (or another carrier), should be allocated BA slots at Heathrow in order to not only offer competition on the Scottish and Irish routes, but also allow for a level field of play for other airlines at Britain’s largest airport. At present travellers to and from the UK regions are forced to use T5 making it difficult (and probably not worthwhile) to change to another carrier in Terminals 2, 3 and 4. Aer Lingus to transfer from T2 to T5 would be a sensible move freeing up space.
It is true that easyJet is not interested in connecting traffic as such on through tickets, transfer luggage in particular a problem, but there are many business people with just a roll-on bag, who would be delighted to quickly connect to a Star Alliance carrier at T2 if that was the easyJet Heathrow home, walk across to T3, or take the shuttle to T4 and Skyteam.
easyJet at Heathrow would be very popular with many travellers. It is not a new kid on the block (20 years old in November). The service and welcome is as good as any legacy airline's economy cabin. And the Scottish Nationalists for one would clearly be happier reporting to Westminster on an alternative to British Airways.
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It would be interesting to see how operating out of Heathrow would affect the airline's ticket prices. The competition certainly wouldn't be a bad thing.