easyJet is one of Europe’s largest low-cost airlines, offering flights to over 140 destinations. This has become possible due to the airline’s dozens of bases across Europe, giving it access to a vast population of potential passengers. In an exclusive interview with Simple Flying, CEO Johan Lundgren spoke about just how many people live near easyJet airports in Europe.
easyJet has a formidable presence in Europe: 300 million people live within a one-hour drive from an easyJet airport. This means travelers can quickly commute to and from the airport and save on transport, which mean sometimes be more expensive than the flight itself! However, easyJet’s strategy stands in contrast to its competitors.
Take London, for example. easyJet’s focus in the bustling city is at Gatwick Airport, the busiest behind Heathrow and closer to the city center. Meanwhile, top competitor Ryanair’s focus is on London Stansted, which is quite the trek from the city. While Ryanair definitely saves million on costs, this is not how easyJet views the debate.
In an exclusive webinar with Simple Flying in late July, CEO Johan Lundgren spoke about the airline’s strategy before and during the pandemic, saying,
“We’re not interested in airports you can’t pronounce, we’re not interested in flying to places where actually there’s nothing there apart from an airstrip on the field somewhere. That’s just not what we do, we fly into where people live.
“There are 300 million people across Europe that lives within one hour’s drive from an easyJet airport. That’s a lot. So that’s what we decided early on, that’s where our focus is going to be, and strategy is very much about making a choice.”
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While easyJet’s strategy undoubtedly helps travelers across Europe by providing low-fare options for airports that aren’t hours away, it’s not all about altruism. Indeed, easyJet’s model actually works best at primary airports where it can compete, and beat out, full-service airlines that have a much higher cost structure.
By securing slots at major airports, easyJet can save on its operational costs and capture demand from other airlines flying to the same destination. With tickets only costing a few euros, leisure travelers are instantly attracted to the airline and avoid pricey full-service airlines.
Meanwhile, it is far more appealing to fly to Paris CDG than to Paris Valtry, which is 131 miles from the actual city. This makes beating out the other low-cost airlines much easier for easyJet.
Lundgren reiterated this while explaining easyJet’s pandemic strategy, which saw it close some bases in favor of consolidation. He said,
“The core of the strategy was actually to fly to a primary airport and have leading positions at primary airports. Our model works the best when we have, and we are number one or number two in the primary airports.”
For now, easyJet is not planning to change its strategy anytime soon. With passenger demand coming back quickly, this might continue being the right long-term play for the carrier too.
What do you think about easyJet’s decision to fly to primary airports usually? Let us know in the comments!