Belfast Telegraph

Airline EasyJet keen on teaming up for the long-haul

By Neil Lancefield

EasyJet is in talks with traditional airlines about providing transfer connections for long-haul passengers, its chief executive has disclosed.

Carolyn McCall explained that the low-cost carrier is interested in establishing a partnership, as long as it does not disrupt its "winning operating model" on short-haul flights.

"We will continue to talk to airlines, because we need to explore an innovative way of being able to feed legacy (airlines)," she said.

"The thing that's happened here is that for legacy airlines to do short-haul Europe is prohibitively expensive; they are losing a lot of money on short-haul Europe, which is why they are interested in talking to us and others about how they get our feed."

It is understood that easyJet does not want to take on some of the traditional responsibilities of a feeder airline, such as transferring baggage.

Ms McCall continued: "We have a winning operating model. It is fantastically enviable to have, because it does well regardless of the economic environment.

"We have to be very careful we don't over-complicate or make things more difficult for that model, because that is what makes us successful.

"So whenever we look at feeds at the moment we see more complications to it. If we could find a way of doing (it) that was simple and straightforward and didn't get in the way of our model, then we would certainly look at doing it."

Reports emerged last month that easyJet is in discussions with German carrier Lufthansa about a possible alliance, but the UK-based airline has not commented on any specific partnership.

In August, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary announced that the airline is considering forming an agreement with British Airways owner International Airlines Group and Aer Lingus about transferring long-haul passengers.

Ms McCall made the comments on feeder discussions at an event at Luton Airport to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the airline's first flight. EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou - who travelled in the cockpit on board the flight from Luton to Glasgow on November 10, 1995 - attended the celebration.

Belfast Telegraph