EasyJet is set for long-haul travel, launching a partnership with Norwegian and WestJet to deliver connections at London’s Gatwick Airport. The new service, dubbed “Worldwide by EasyJet” allows passengers to combine airlines in a single booking for a short-haul EasyJet segment continuing to the Americas on one of the long-haul partners. At its core this is a basic interline agreement, meaning minimal benefits transfer across, but it is a huge first step for European LCC carriers in growing across the Atlantic. Assuming a successful implementation the service will expand to Milan, Geneva, Barcelona, Paris-CDG and Amsterdam.
The new Worldwide by EasyJet service requires a 2.5 hour connection time at Gatwick, double the normal minimum other airlines use. That extra time serves as a buffer against delayed flights and also helps ensure passengers and their bags make the connection. Passengers with checked bags are required to collect them and drop them at a dedicated GatwickConnects counter. That service is run by the airport to facilitate connections for airlines that don’t provide such a product themselves. The bag service carries a 15 GBP fee when used ad hoc but the cost is rolled in to the Worldwide by EasyJet fares.
EasyJet’s move beats rival Ryanair to market; the latter was expected to go live with a similar service tied to Air Europa earlier this summer. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has repeated cited technical challenges with GDS integration – making the booking systems talk to each other is not trivial – as delaying his company’s efforts. EasyJet did not suffer such integration challenges and also was less vocal about the early planning efforts. But it delivered on the service, with seats available for sale today.
Read More: Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary on the Future of European Aviation
It appears that Worldwide by EasyJet only sells Norwegian’s LowFare+ product. That includes a seat assignment, checked bag and meal on board. It also comes at a premium of ~$90 each way compared to the lowest fares Norwegian sells. But buying the combined ticket provides protection against a missed connection.
Interestingly, Norwegian also operates a European network from its hub at Gatwick. In some cases EasyJet will be selling seats that compete directly with Norwegian. Because the fares sold are additive (i.e. US-London on Norwegian/WestJet plus London onward on EasyJet) this could create some interesting pricing scenarios for the carriers. That effect will be less pronounced in the other long-haul gateways Norwegian is building up, namely Paris and Barcelona, as Norwegian’s European network at those cities is weaker.
While this new Worldwide by EasyJet service provides some competition to legacy network carriers from the LCCs it is far from a full assault on their business model. Protected connections will enable a boost in sales for such itineraries but many travelers were already considering and even booking such, even unprotected. The current implementation does not optimize connection times nor fares, leading to routes that often take far longer for total travel time and prices that may or may not be competitive. The deal remains a long ways off from a true alliance of LCCs, but seeing them working together rather than 100% battling with each other is undoubtedly an evolution of the market, another challenge for the industry to face.
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Very interesting. I wouldn’t fly EasyJet but there certainly are many people who do so every day.
Why not? I flew on both Norwegian and EasyJet last week to Europe and BA home. Other than being in Premium Economy on the return – a benefit I could’ve paid for on Norwegian as well – the passenger experience was remarkably similar.
“I wouldn’t fly easyJet” — are you fucking nuts? They’re exactly the same as BA
lol, I don’t fly BA either. I was Star Alliance and these days I am SKYTEAM.
Sorry, but that sort of irrational behavior is hard for me to get behind. The Delta or United or Air France or KLM or Swiss or whatever else flight experience would be more or less the same, too.
There are pockets where the confluence of product and price come together to justify choosing any airline for any particular flight. But absolutes like “I don’t fly XYZ” are generally stupid.
I’m sure there’s a time and a price point where EasyJet would work for me. There are times that Southwest Airlines has worked for me and I’ve been very happy on them here and there. LCCs aren’t the worst thing in the world and they can be flown successfully. For the time being though, EasyJet has yet to meet any of those schedule or price requirements.
In fairness, KLM short haul is really nothing like BA or EasyJet. Everything is still complimentary, including food, and their seat pitch is quite respectable in most cases. SWISS’s is a cut above as well, though their seats are torturous. I say this as someone who would be happy to try out EasyJet given the occasion, though perhaps not as part of a transatlantic connection.
I paid $15 in the terminal for a sushi meal before my EasyJet flight. It was WAY better than the “free” food any airline has served on board in Y in the past decade at least. I get that it sucks in that food used to be included in the fares and it no longer is. But I also got over that pretty quickly with the fact that I paid so much less to fly London to Zurich than I would have a decade ago.
Impressive. EasyJet is not a bad experience at all.
I agree Brad, it’s not first class but in some cases I would put it above US regional service. At least you never end up on a CRJ with them.
It will be interesting to see if Norwegian adds PVD-LGW
As a foreign carrier, can they do that?
I believe they can. I don’t think it is 100% foreign, they hire crews and base them in PVD. I don’t remember the details, but there was some exception to the rules. They fly to about 4 cities now, DUB, BGO, SNN for sure. They stated more flights next year, some year round some seasonal
Norwegian has multiple subsidiaries but all have the rights to operate fully within the US/EU Open Skies treaty. That means anything from LGW to the US is fair game, at least until the Brexit, after which it will depend on what the US/UK bilateral negotiations deliver.
Smart move by U2: Let DY and WS take the losses on longhaul; U2 will get the incrementally profitable shorthaul pax. With the low tatl fares that are out there these days, the revenue split will be pretty wild – U2 will sometimes get paid as much for the 500 miles it carries someone on one of these itineraries than DY/WS will get for their 3,500 miles. There is a reason the shorthaul LCCs that do these deals don’t agree to mileage-based prorates.
Absolutely agree, especially since it is built as an end-on-end pricing model. Norwegian gets a small bonus in that the through fares require its LowFare+ product so the incremental “ancillary” revenue is guaranteed (I’m not certain if it is accounted for as ancillary since it is included at the fare basis level, not an add-on, though the net effect is the same). But the long-haul LCC model remains spectacularly unproven today, at least when it comes to the overall finance side.
I think it is well proven that pax will fly anywhere in any conditions if the price is cheap enough.
Well stated Seth. It will be interesting to see how American travelers accept this model, but I too believe they will be swayed by cost considerations.
I think that if a US-based customer sees the connecting flight sold as a single itinerary they’ll book it just the same as they would a Delta connection to Air France or United to Eurowings. And, depending on the route and fleet involved, the main difference is likely to be the longer forced layover to provide the semi-selfconnect buffer.
Absolutely… No downside for consumers (it’s another affordable option to take or leave), and no downside for easyJet – that model of providing the “last-mile” shorthaul connection (at a higher cost to the longhaul airline than typical industry-standard prorates) has worked well for airlines like JetBlue, Alaska and WestJet itself, before it made the riskier decision to become a longhaul operator. I’ve flown Norwegian a few times and have been happy. But of course, part of why I’ve been happy is that they have provided me with what was almost certainly below-cost air travel.
Worldwide is an interesting concept, but I don’t see it being particularly lucrative for anyone except Easyjet, for two reasons:
1. It does not deliver a compelling value proposition for business travelers; and
2. There’s little ability to compete aggressively with immunized multi-carrier networks that can optimize revenue flows and allocations on their shorthaul and longhaul networks.
But in these crazy times, who knows?
Your points most certainly make sense from a business perspective Everton, but your last comment rings loud. Passenger trends seem harder to predict and there little incentive to show affinity to one brand. Have the legacy airline created a void that Worldwide can fill? Time will tell…
I think you underestimate the volume of business traffic on LCCs. That’s more a European thing than a US thing now, simply based on coverage/penetration, but it is growing across the Atlantic as well. I also think you overestimate the need for business travelers to drive profits.
The ATI/JVs are real. The US airlines seem to have reasonably deep pockets right now but the European side is in a far weaker position to compete on price and hope for the best.
Seth Miller you nailed it. So true
Thanks for sharing this update, an interesting development. Regards, Alastair Majury
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