easyJet Brings Competition to Milan Linate – Rome Fiumicino Route

After being awarded lucrative traffic rights to inaugurate flights between London and Moscow, UK low-cost carrier easyJet has now secured access to one of the largest European monopoly markets after the Italian competition authority (AGCM) made a landmark ruling to award the carrier rights to fly between Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino.

Italian flag carrier Alitalia has traditionally been the only airline allowed to fly between Linate and Fiumicino and operates up to 30 services a day.  As a result of the monopoly position, fares on the one hour flights between the two cities can be as high as 289 Euros one way.  With easyJet has had a long running lobbying campaign to get access to this market and despite many other operators failing similar campaigns AGCM has concluded that the route should be opened up to competition.

The current market between Milan and Rome is huge.  Next month there are more than 1,000 departures – more than 30 a day – offering more than 150,000 seats in each direction.  In 2011 an estimated 1.91 million O&D passengers flew between the cities, with many connecting on via the wider network’s on offer from the two key Italian gateways.  Around a third of these passengers flew between Milan Malpensa and Rome Fiumicino, a market already served by easyJet but more than 1.25 million O&D passengers flew to the capital city from Milan Linate, a route where up until now Alitalia has held a monopoly.

easyJet plans to offer up to five flights every day between Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino and believes its expanded schedule of flights between the Italian capital and its commercial centre - arguably the most important route for the Italian economy – will help stimulate demand.  Since it made its debut on the Milan Malpensa – Rome Fiumicino in November 2008, monthly demand has increased 36 per cent on the route pair, while average fares have fallen 45 per cent.  In the first half of this year easyJet had a 57 per cent share of the capacity and a 70 per cent share of the O&D demand on the route and its management will be hoping for a similar performance on its new routing between the cities.

“This represents the break-up of the last great monopoly route in Europe, linking as it does the political capital and the industrial centre of Europe’s fourth largest economy.  No other European flag carrier has control over a route of such importance,” said Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive Officer, easyJet.  “This is a historic decision and is a victory for Italian consumers. easyJet is looking forward to making travel easier and more affordable on this vital route.”

Elsewhere, easyJet has announced it will base a fourth Airbus A319 at London Southend Airport, one of its youngest aircraft bases where operations only commenced in March this year.  The jet will be used to inaugurate new passenger links to the German capital Berlin and the Polish city of Krakow from June 2013.  The airline will offer a six times weekly link to Berlin from June 17, 2013 and the same day will introduce a four times weekly link to Krakow.

"Basing an additional aircraft in Southend is testament to the airport’s success since we launched flights there this March and demonstrates our commitment to growing our presence there,” said Hugh Aitken, UK Commercial Manager, easyJet.  “Recent customer satisfaction research with our passengers has borne out what we had believed would make the airport a popular choice.” 

easyJet currently operates flights to eleven destinations from London Southend - Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Faro, Geneva, Ibiza, Jersey, Malaga, Mallorca and Venice – and its summer 2013 schedule will feature around 650,000 seats on more than 4,200 flights.

The additional A319 at London Southend will be switched from London Stansted with the closure of routes to Alicante and Barcelona.  However, fleet capacity will be retained at Stansted with the basing of a 180-seat A320 at the airport, which will be used to support a expansion of the network to include Marrakech in Morocco, the popular Egyptian leisure destination of Sharm el Sheikh and the Bulgarian capital Sofia. 

The airline will offer a year-round three times weekly connection between London Stansted and Marrakech from February 15, 2013; a year-round twice weekly link to Sharm el Sheikh from February 17, 2013 and a twice weekly flight to Sofia from February 16, 2013.  easyJet already serves all three destinations from its largest London base at Gatwick Airport, while Sharm el Sheikh is also flown from London Luton.  Ryanair has recently suspended its own flights between Marrakech and London Stansted, but easyJet will face direct weekly competition from Thomson Airways on the route to Sharm el Sheikh.

“Currently, easyJet operates three mid-haul routes from Stansted to Bodrum, Dalaman and Fuerteventura so this announcement shows a real commitment to offering more varied destinations further afield, and the best value for our passengers,” said Hugh Aitken.  easyJet’s Summer 2013 schedule (up to September 8, 2013) from Stansted Airport now features 1.7 million seats on 10,900 flights to 27 routes across Europe and North Africa.

easyJet now operates from 11 UK bases having officially launched at London Southend Airport earlier this year.  In the table below we highlight the airline’s operations across its UK network of 16 destinations during the coming month.  Overall seat capacity from the UK (domestic and international flights) is up 4.9 per cent in November 2012 versus the same month last year, with strong growth across a number of markets.  However, a number of locations show capacity declines, the most notable being London Stansted where available seats are down by a fifth on last year.

EASYJET SCHEDULED AIR SERVICES FROM UK AIRPORTS (non-stop departures; November 2012)

Rank

Airport

Departures

Available Seats

% UK Network Capacity

Seat Capacity Change (vs 2011)

1

London Gatwick (LGW)

3,211

524,100

32.8 %

6.0 %

2

Belfast International (BFS)

1,108

177,168

11.1 %

15.1 %

3

London Luton (LTN)

1,064

170,952

10.7 %

0.1 %

4

Bristol (BRS)

775

124,908

7.8 %

11.8 %

5

London Stansted (STN)

752

118,032

7.4 %

(-20.9) %

6

Edinburgh (EDI)

725

116,556

7.3 %

3.8 %

7

Glasgow (GLA)

596

94,992

5.9 %

(-2.9) %

8

Liverpool John Lennon (LPL)

539

87,060

5.4 %

(-8.4) %

9

Manchester (MAN)

406

68,112

4.3 %

2.4 %

10

Newcastle (NCL)

224

36,624

2.3 %

(-3.4) %

11

London Southend (SEN)

210

32,760

2.0 %

New Entrant

12

Aberdeen (ABZ)

79

12,324

0.8 %

(-11.2) %

13

Inverness (INV)

67

10,452

0.7 %

(-16.8) %

14

Isle of Man Ronaldsway (IOM)

63

9,828

0.6 %

152.0 %

15

Birmingham (BHX)

52

8,112

0.5 %

New Entrant

16

Jersey (JER)

43

6,708

0.4 %

126.3 %

TOTAL

9,914

1,598,688

-

4.9 %


easyJet continues to expand its network from the UK and this week inaugurated flights between London Gatwick and Luxembourg, becoming one of the first low-cost carriers to enter the country, the world's only remaining grand duchy. Luxembourg is one of the world's most developed countries, with an advanced economy and the world's second highest GDP per capita, according to IMF statistics.

The carrier is operating a four times weekly service on the route and expects to attract strong business demand as well as leisure passengers taking short breaks to the city or exploring this diverse region of Europe covering Germany and France, including the famous Champagne region.

“Luxembourg is a key commercial European centre and the latest business route served by easyJet from London Gatwick – further enhancing our network across Europe,” said Paul Simmons, UK Director, easyJet.  “We believe that our services will be popular and will be able to meet the business demand expectations.  A number of large global companies base their headquarters in Luxembourg the city including well-known brands like Amazon, Paypal, Exxon Mobil and Skype.  More than 50,000 passengers are expected to fly on the route on the first year of operations.”

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