From 2 Routes To European Giant: A Short History Of easyJet

easyJet is one of the largest carriers in Europe, flying on more than 1,100 routes to over 35 countries. The airline uses its fleet of Airbus A320 family narrowbodies to conduct its low-cost operations across Europe and beyond. Based in Luton, United Kingdom, the company has grown to become a household name in several industries since its founding just over a quarter of a century ago.

EasyJet 737
easyJet’s early advertising campaigns highlighted that its flights were the same price as a pair of jeans. Photo: Getty Images

The carrier’s history started in March 1995. This was when Greek-Cypriot entrepreneur, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou chose Luton Airport as the site to base his new airline. The operator went on to become a low-cost powerhouse, with a network that covers most of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Originally a Boeing airline and now an Airbus fan, easyJet hasn’t recorded a single fatal crash, leading to its label as one of the world’s safest airlines.

The price is right

Sir Stelios had a goal of offering low-cost fares for passengers in Europe. Thus, easyJet’s initial flights were launched at the end of 1995, which were both services to Scotland. The first route was between Luton and Glasgow, launching on November 10th. Following this, Luton-Edinburgh began on November 24th.

Customers loved the low ticket prices, costing as little as £29 ($39) one way. We may be used to these sorts of short-haul prices today, but at the time, they were something really quite revolutionary.

While easyJet is exclusively an Airbus carrier today, this was not always the case. It launched its first flights with two Boeing 737-200 jets, registration G-BECH and G-BECG. These narrowbodies joined the firm on November 9th and November 10th in its first year.

A further 84 737s would arrive at easyJet’s facilities. The first of these to be wholly owned was delivered in April 1996. The airline’s first international service then followed, which was a flight to Amsterdam.

easyJet 757
From 2010, easyJet also operated the Boeing 757. Photo: Pedro Aragão via Wikimedia Commons

The momentum continued throughout the 1990s, with easyJet opening its second UK base, at Liverpool Airport, in 1997. The carrier then went on to take advantage of the .com boom. In 1998, the carrier began promoting tickets on easyJet.com. This website would replace the carrier’s phone number on its livery.

Into the new millennium

The arrival of the 21st century saw easyJet officially have its shares admitted to the London Stock Exchange. With this corporate move, the carrier expanded its national presence by launching a base at London Gatwick in December 2001, an initiative that was marked with the sale of the ten millionth seat online. The expansions wouldn’t stop, with the carrier merging with Go in the summer of 2002 to create a low-cost behemoth.

2003 would be the year that easyJet would enter its first Airbus unit into service. The A319 was first deployed on flights to Geneva.

In May 2005, the airline welcomed its 100 millionth passenger. Always jumping on the momentum of new technology initiatives, the company became the first major low-cost airline to offer online check-in for its passengers in the UK.

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Having to adapt

easyJet continued its rise into the 2010s. It became the largest British airline with 500 itineraries, and numerous Airbus A320 family aircraft would arrive throughout the decade. Today, easyJet holds a fleet of over 90 A319s, more than 200 A320s, and 14 A321s.

easyjet, UK green list, Future Flying
Johan Lundgren became the chief executive officer of easyJet in 2017. Photo: Getty Images

easyJet would have hoped for better conditions as it celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. It actually reported its first annual loss ever amid the complications of the global health crisis.

Nonetheless, the airline is excited for the future, looking at modern solutions such as sustainable aviation fuels, electric aircraft, and hydrogen propulsion options as it targets net-zero operations in the coming decades.

What are your thoughts about easyJet’s history? What do you make of the airline’s journey over the years? Let us know what you think of the carrier and its operations in the comment section.

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