EasyJet sees case for package holidays as it looks to announce new services from Bristol Airport

November 22, 2019

Low-cost airline easyJet is to announce new routes from Bristol Airport within the next few weeks following the acquisition of take-off and landing slots formerly owned by defunct travel group Thomas Cook.

The airline, the largest operator from the airport, paid £36m for the six summer slot pairs and one winter slot pair at Bristol along with 20 slots at Gatwick Airport. 

The move coincides with the relaunch of its easyJet Holidays package travel business as a standalone division. The airline said it was likely to use the Bristol Airport slots to introduce new “sunshine” holiday destinations or increase frequencies on established routes to back up the new focus on package holidays.

The new services could be introduced as early as February. EasyJet is also considering adding a further dedicated aircraft next year to its 17-strong Bristol-based fleet, which serves 72 destinations – more than half the airport’s total.

Airport slots are vital for airlines to expand their route network from airports, such as Bristol and Gatwick, that are constrained in their ability to add new flights.

It is also upgrading its fleet to include the larger – and quieter – Airbus A321neos (new engine option) aircraft. Two A321s are expected to be based at Bristol next summer.

Despite the demise of iconic package holiday firm Thomas Cook, easyJet sees growth in what some industry watchers believe is an outdated market. The market in the UK is worth £15bn a year and is growing by around 6% a year across Europe, easyJet said – giving it scope to offer hotel accommodation, airport transfers and other services to passengers.

EasyJet carries around 20m passengers a year to package holiday destinations but just 500,000 of them book accommodation from it. A new website and app are being launched with an emphasis on four and five-start tourist hotels.

EasyJet has also pledged to become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its entire network by offsetting all jet fuel emissions.

Earlier this week it reported pre-tax profits of £427m in the year ending September 30 – down 26% on last year.

Earlier this month easyJet launched its service from Bristol to Hurghada in Egypt.

During the summer it introduced new routes to Milan and Brindisi in Italy and Biarritz in France. It also added a second daily flight between Bristol and Paris – a service it says has performed better than expected. The timing of the flights means business travellers can get to and from the French capital for meetings on the same day.


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