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easyJet's CEO Carolyn McCall

easyJet's CEO Carolyn McCall

» Interview | Monday, January 9, 2012 • Air News Times
Q: What do you see as the next step in the European aviation market as a whole and especially in the low cost sector?

CMC: I think that low-fare airlines will continue to grow in Europe probably not as at the same rapid rate, so I think there is still growth, there is still opportunity but I think certainly for us and I think it is reflected in all low-fares and all airlines, they wéll all be much more careful about the capacity and their capacity growth in the next months.

Q: Do you see any kind of consolidation of low-cost carriers?

CMC: Generally, I don’t think it is just for low-cost carriers. I think that the airline market will consolidate.  And there will be more consolidation, because of the high fuel prices, the weaker players will find very very difficult to survive

Q: There was a discussion in the past about alliances between low-cost carriers but this is not happening really in the aviation. Do you see that perhaps easyJet can establish an alliance over the future as f.ex JetBlue?

CMC: It is not in our priorities, I think that whenever has come out before, it is very much something that is in the interest of net or hub carriers, whereas for us, we need to keep systems simple and straightforward and we don’t want to make a complicated process. So, anything that complicates what we do, we wouldn’t be in favor of, so it would have to have a clear material, financial benefit for us to consider it seriously.

Q: Singapore Airlines announced a low-cost long haul carrier. There is Air Asia X already flying to Europe. Is there any future plan for easyJet to become active also this market?

No, we believe that we do what we do very well and it is short- haul European market primarily. That is what we do very well, that is the model and that is what we are going to focus on for the next five years.

Q:  You announced back in 2007 was an environmental initiatives. What are the next steps based on this plan, that has proposed your predecessor, and how they will affect the future of travelling and the future types of aircraft?

CFC: It is quite away, it is probably the new engines on the Airbus- that will not probably be in place before 2016 and it is them that can jet forward from that. What we can say is that we are interested in anything that is better for fuel and better for the environment. So, we are talking to the manufacturers of Airbus and Boeing, about the new engines and about the future plans in that area.

Q: If the price of the fuel goes up, are you afraid of this profitability being reduced or being affect negatively?

CFC: Actually the last time was better for the low-cost carriers because there was a credit crisis as well. I think the situation for carriers at the moment is different because what we see in Europe is a cooperate recovery, it is a business led recovery and that means that long- haul, premium, business passengers are funding the long- haul airlines and these carriers can afford fuel easier. So, I think in that way it is tougher for a low- fares airline because we cannot pass on the fuel increase as quickly to the passengers, because there is more price sensitivity, because this is not a consumered recovery. Consumers are still uncertain, so I think it is very different to the situation of 2008-2009. However, you need to bear in mind that easyJet has very strong balances, you know, it has cash, it is a strong company, so we expect that we will emerge from the next few months strong.

: You have point-to-point traffic. This traffic is mainly leisure, business, or mix of that at what percentage as a total?

CFC: Of all passengers about 80% are flying on leisure, 20% fly on business.

Q: Do you want to increase the number of business passengers?

Yes, we are trying to increase the number of business passengers and as we know that we get more yield out of the business passenger, we will continue to drive that.

Q: Do you plan to do something similar to Germanwings and other carries which have left a little bit more space in the first rows to attract passengers?

CFC: easyJet is a very egalitarian airline. It’s simple, it’s quick, it’s efficient and it’s easy. So, we think we have the one thing that passengers tell us they want more than anything: that is flying on business’s flexibility. So, we now do flexible fares. We’ve never done that before and you pay a bit more but you can change your tickets unlimited times, either in fall or winter. So, it’s very good for business. And in addition to that, with flexy fare you get speedy boarding and a bag to hold for free. So, we bundled flexible fare and it seems to get some attraction. People are interested.

Q: And do you have any kind of connection between flights?

CFC: No, they self – connect.

Q: What are the next bases for easyJet , perhaps something outside Europe, close to Europe?

CFC: Well, we launched our new route to Jordan very recently, so in our flying outside Europe we have Jordan and Egypt, as we fly to Luxor. At the moment the next base is Lisbon, which will be ready at the end of the winter season, so early 2012, that is the next base and then we will think then about what we will do next.
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