View Full Version : Easyjet expands AMS operation

6th Apr 2001, 15:19
From yesterday's FT, apologies if it is a rehash.

"EasyJet, the fast-growing UK low cost airline, is adding five new routes to its European network but has excluded Luton, its main UK base because of its long-running dispute over airport landing fees.

The latest wave of expansion is being concentrated on Amsterdam Schiphol airport, which EasyJet is developing as a second continental European base after Geneva.

Ray Webster, EasyJet chief executive, said the airline was adding routes from Amsterdam to Barcelona and Glasgow and was also increasing daily frequencies from one to two on services from Amsterdam to Belfast, London Gatwick and Nice.

When the expansion was completed during August EasyJet would be flying to nine destinations from Amsterdam demonstrating that the low cost formula was as valid in continental Europe as in the UK, said Mr Webster.

EasyJet is also adding new routes from Belfast to Glasgow and Edinburgh and from Gatwick to Nice. It has acquired temporary use of some Virgin group take off and landing slots at Gatwick.

Mr Webster said that EasyJet was seeking to expand its network by flying to destinations it already served from other locations. "This joining the dots approach is in stark contrast to the hub and spoke model of traditional airlines," he said.

The latest wave of expansion is a blow to Luton airport, which has been the main operating base for EasyJet since it began flying in 1995.

Last year the airport accounted for 65 per cent of EasyJet passenger volumes, but by the end of the summer less than half of the airline's fleet will be based at the airport, as the group makes good on its threat to expand elsewhere in protest at a tripling of landing fees.

EasyJet is operating under an interim six-month tariff arrangement at Luton airport following the expiry of its previous highly favourable 5-year deal at the end of January.

Under the present arrangement Luton was "not an attractive airport to invest in," said Mr Webster.

Control of the airport has recently been taken over, however, by TBI, the UK-based international airport operator, from two Barclays Bank investment funds, and EasyJet is hoping to conclude a deal on lower landing fees during the summer.

The airline, which was floated on the London stock exchange last autumn, is in a period of rapid expansion in which it is taking delivery of 13 new Boeing 737-700 aircraft between July and May next year.

Including the retirement of some older aircraft the scheduled operating fleet is being expanded from 21 to 28 by summer 2002, while an additional one or two aircraft will be held in reserve to cope with technical problems.

EasyJet has been running into increasing problems over the punctuality of its operations in the past year, as it has sought to increase the utilisation of its aircraft from ten-and-a-half hours to 12 hours a day"