EasyJet To Return 3,000 Gatwick Slots To British Airways

British Airways at London Gatwick
Credit: London Gatwick Airport

LONDON—EasyJet is scheduled to return “three aircraft’s worth” of slots at London Gatwick Airport to British Airways (BA) in summer 2024, and the LCC has taken a £3 million ($3.8 million) write-down after surrendering ex-Air Berlin slots at Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

Speaking on the airline’s fiscal 2023 earnings call, easyJet Chief Commercial Officer Sophie Dekkers said the carrier has applied for 90,000 Gatwick slots for summer 2024.

Around 6,000 of these slots have been built into the summer 2024 schedule “for resilience” after easyJet was forced to cancel summer 2023 flights to mitigate against air traffic control (ATC) disruption and congestion over the southern Mediterranean.

However, easyJet also will be returning around 3,000 slots to BA, which Dekkers equated to “three aircraft’s worth,” under a slot agreement between the two airlines. “That will take us from 81 down to 78 aircraft,” she said. “More aircraft [in slot equivalents] will be returned in the next couple of years as well.”

Dekkers said that when BA downsized its Gatwick operation from 32 aircraft to 16, easyJet picked up eight aircraft’s worth of slots. The remainder were redistributed within International Airlines Group (IAG), including to Spanish LCC Vueling.

BA withdrew from Gatwick during the coronavirus pandemic but went on to launch short-haul leisure carrier BA Euroflyer in March 2022. During the break, BA redistributed its Gatwick slots, but these are now being returned.

In September, BA Cityflyer CEO Tom Stoddart said BA Euroflyer is planning to operate 22 Airbus A320ceo-family aircraft in summer 2024, growing to 28 aircraft by 2027, if the Gatwick short-haul strategy delivers according to plan. “That is basically sequenced into the return of slots that were leased out to other airlines,” Stoddart said at the time.

EasyJet has also just finalized a new six-year agreement with Gatwick Airport, building on the seven-year deal that is scheduled to expire in April 2024. EasyJet CFO Kenton Jarvis said the deal secures easyJet as “an anchor partner” at Gatwick.

Meanwhile, easyJet has returned its final slots at Berlin Brandenburg, after downsizing its operation from 18 to 11 aircraft. The slots were originally acquired from Air Berlin in 2017. EasyJet said the slot surrender resulted in a £3 million intangible asset disposal loss.

In terms of wider network development, easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said he is now seeking additional traffic rights, after successfully securing rights between Germany and Turkey, which were under negotiation for “quite some time.”

“We fly between Berlin, Antalya and Izmir and this is a big, big market. There’s 7 million Turkish people living in Germany today. There are 3 million German nationals that go to Turkey every year,” he said.

EasyJet is now seeking new traffic rights in markets where easyJet is “underrepresented,” particularly in North Africa. “That’s something we are speaking to the relevant authorities about on an ongoing basis,” Lundgren said.

Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores joined Air Transport World as our London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief on 18 June 2012. Victoria has nearly 20 years’ aviation industry experience, spanning airline ground operations, analytical, journalism and communications roles.