easyJet Agrees New Deal at London Luton Airport HQ

Just days after announcing a new seven-year agreement at its largest base, London’s Gatwick Airport, UK low-fare carrier easyJet has now confirmed it has agreed a ten-year deal at its London Luton Airport headquarters which could see the airline more than double its size at the airport from four to nine million passengers a year. The expansion would also see the creation of 2,500 new jobs at the airport – the UK’s sixth largest - and in the surrounding region.

easyJet has 15 aircraft based at London Luton, its second largest London base and original launch platform, and it plans to grow its capacity by around 20 per cent over the next year - adding new business and leisure routes and increasing frequencies on some of its existing 39 routes from London Luton.

“This is a substantial, long term deal with London Luton Airport – our first base and the airline’s home – which will enable us to double our size at London Luton in the next decade and add an even greater range of business and leisure destinations,” said Carolyn McCall, chief executive officer, easyJet.

According to McCall, the airline has been encouraged by the atitude of new concession owners Ardian and AENA and their financial investment and long term commitment to developing the airport were a key factor in agreeing to this new deal.

“The speed of easyJet’s expansion at London Luton is in part reliant on the airport’s plans for much-needed improvements being approved,” explained McCall, adding that the improvements will unlock the airport’s potential by improving the customer experience of the airport and increasing passenger traffic. ”This will in turn drive economic growth and jobs for the region,” she added.

London Luton can make a real and immediate contribution to the need for more airport capacity in the South East of England. It currently serves almost ten million passengers a year and if the expansion plans are given the go-ahead would be able to grow to 18 million in the coming years – using the existing runway but with huge improvements to the rest of the airport’s infrastructure.

easyJet is the largest airline operating from London Luton with 15 Airbus aircraft based at the airport, 1,600 staff employed locally and 39 destinations served and it remains a historic part of the easyJet story having been the carrier’s launch base when it uinaugurated domestic UK operations in 1995 with a single wet-leased Boeing 737-200.

“easyJet is our largest airline partner, accounting for 45 per cent of all passengers using the airport. We see this as a real vote of confidence in London Luton Airport and its future as we work to become bigger and to deliver a better airport experience for our passengers in the years to come,” said Glyn Jones, managing director, London Luton Airport. “The creation of new jobs, the opening up of new routes, and the increased frequency of flights to popular destinations is great news for the entire local region.”

The HUB reported last week on easyJet’s continuos growth at London Gatwick and now it has agreed this deal with London Luton we thought it would be interesting to see how its operations from London have changed over the past ten years. In the analysis below we highlight the carrier’s seat capacity on departures from the London market since 2004.

While Gatwick has been a story about steady growth, the picture at Luton and to a greater extent Stansted, has been very different. At Luton, easyJet’s capacity was in growth up until 2007 but subsequently declined up until 2011. The airline grew at the Bedfordshire airport in 2012 with numbers remaining stable in 2013. At Stansted the years of easyJet offering around three million annual seats between 2004 and 2007 are over and for the past two years the airline’s capacity has actually fallen below the two million seat figure. Meanwhile, although much smaller in scale, Southend Airport has become an alternative London offering with capacity up 57.0 per cent in 2013, the fastest growing of easyJet’s London bases.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…