According to an interview in yesterday’s Sunday Times, easyJet are trying to re-position themselves towards the middle of the market. They now avoid using the terms “budget” or “low-cost” airline.
That is fair enough. Increasing fuel prices are hitting all airlines but they affect the budget carriers more than traditional carriers. An airline like easyJet has the same cost of aircraft, the same insurance costs, the same airport charges and almost the same staff costs as traditional carriers. The small saving they can make by squeezing more people on to an aircraft becomes a smaller percentage as the cost of fuel increases. Quite simply, the budgets are going to find it tougher and tougher to compete.
It is all very well saying you want to move the airline into the middle of the market and go out to attract business flyers but passengers still want value.
EasyJet’s attempt to offer flexible fares has produced some laughably high fares (£750 return to Glasgow anyone?). A recent move to increase the charge for card payments has provoked wide criticism but it is just another in the list of charges the airline makes that the traditional airlines either do not charge for or charge more modestly.
As prices increase and easyJet declares itself a “mid-market airline”, will passengers still accept long queues to check-in, queues to board, no pre-assigned seating and no free service on board?
Easyjet have a fairly simple task on flights from the regions – if you want to fly from Bristol to Barcelona then there is no competition. However, when they are flying from London airports, it is a very different question.
If they are not going to be so competitive on fares they will have to be more competitive on what they offer.
So far, they have only come up with half the plan.
Fares have to increase but they need to offer more. You cannot survive as an airline charging mid-market rates and offering budget service.