Passengers flying with easyJet will now be able to access long-haul services operated by Norwegian and WestJet following the launch of what the Luton-based carrier claims is “the first global airline connections service by a European low fares airline”. The new service, ‘Worldwide by easyJet’, mirrors the traditional hub and spoke arrangements employed by legacy carriers, but replaces interline and codeshare agreements with “self-connect and sales partnerships through a digital, virtual hub which will offer the same sort of connectivity but more simply and efficiently.”
Launched via the easyJet website on September 13, it is offered initially at London/Gatwick and takes advantage of the airport’s existing GatwickConnects product, which enables passengers to check-in their luggage at desks in the baggage reclaim hall without going landside. This, easyJet claims, allows customers to “seamlessly” connect their easyJet flight with long-haul flights offered by its partners, Norwegian and WestJet.
Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s CEO, explained: “Around 70 million passengers flying through an easyJet airport each year are connecting on to other flights, mainly long-haul, and it is this market segment that Worldwide by easyJet will open up for us. Because of easyJet’s strong positions at Europe’s leading airports and our customer focus long-haul carriers have been asking to work with easyJet for some time and the new technology platform has now allowed us to do so. Our own customers and those who fly with other airlines, short- and long-haul, have also asked us to make it easier to connect with easyJet flights and this simple booking platform makes it easy for them to do so.”
EasyJet says it will not hold aircraft for connecting passengers and has placed a 2hr 30 minimum connection time on Worldwide by easyJet. Passengers who miss their connecting flight will be transferred to the next available service.
Peter Duffy, Chief Commercial Officer for easyJet, added: “The way we have designed Worldwide by easyJet means that we can profitably access a major new pool of customers without undermining easyJet’s operating model and punctuality. We know there is a real customer demand for making flight connections on easyJet easier. Almost 200,000 easyJet passengers a year already self-connect through Gatwick Airport. That’s around 1% of our passengers at the airport and that doesn’t include those connecting between easyJet and long-haul flights.”
The airline says it is actively negotiating with other carriers about joining the new service and notes “talks are already far advanced with Middle Eastern and Far Eastern carriers among others”. The low-cost carrier also plans to replicate the concept at its other major hub airports, including Milan/Malpensa, Geneva, Amsterdam, Paris/Charles De Gaulle and Barcelona.
In addition to Worldwide by easyJet, the airline has started to sell stand-alone tickets on behalf of partner airlines. Loganair is the launch partner for the new service, with seats for the independent Scottish carrier’s services expected to become available on easyJet’s website in October.