EasyJet’s Seasonal Flexibility ‘Here To Stay’
Director of network and airports Neil Slaven says the LCC is making far more in-season network changes than it did previously, stressing that the airline is ready to respond to airports with the lowest costs.
EasyJet’s network planning strategy has become more “nimble and agile” since the pandemic began and that flexibility is here to stay, according to the airline’s director of network and airports.
Speaking at Routes Europe 2022 in Bergen, Neil Slaven said the UK-based carrier is now far better equipped to make in-season changes to its schedule, meaning it can respond quicker to rising demand or price pressures.
“We’ve changed the way we do network planning in a number of different ways,” Slaven said. “Most of the conversations we’re having at the moment will be longer-term—for summer 2023 or 2024—but we’re now making far more in-season changes than we did previously.
“If we need to respond to demand or to cost increases or cost opportunities, we’re able to do that now rather than waiting for 18 months.”
Slaven said easyJet continues to optimize its network for the summer 2022 season to ensure capacity is deployed in the markets where it sees the strongest demand.
More than 1.5 million seats have been reallocated across its network, including increasing its capacity share at London Gatwick (LGW) and boosting its presence in the Greek Islands. The airline has also secured additional slots at Milan Linate (LIN) and Porto (OPO).
Slaven said the LCC was prioritizing airports that can offer “great incentives to build that traffic,” stressing that while easyJet continues to look at new opportunities, many of those opportunities will be cost driven.
“We are, by a long way, not out of the woods—it is really tough out there,” he told delegates. “Although we are generating volumes, those volumes are not yet economically viable. And I think that's a really strong message to land to this stakeholder community.
“You’re seeing volumes increase through your airports, but those passengers are being bought at a very cheap price currently. And that is the point. As an industry, we are recovering but we are not yet operating at breakeven—this industry is not economically viable currently.”
EasyJet posted a headline loss before tax of £545 million ($681 million) for the six months to March 31, 2022, compared with a loss of £701 million a year earlier. Comparing the same time periods, revenues increased from £240 million to £1.5 billion, while the number of passengers carried jumped by 471% to 23.4 million.
Slaven said: “We are making our business better and we expect you to do exactly the same. We expect you to be making your airports leaner and more efficient as we face into the challenges that we have as an industry.”