Low-cost airlines typically do not belong to airline alliances or participate in codeshare and interline agreements, making connections under a single itinerary difficult. U.K.-based easyJet’s hub distribution service dubbed “Worldwide by easyJet,” however, allows passengers of the low-cost airline to connect with partner airline flights, and vice versa, through interconnecting hubs. The service has over a dozen partner airlines today, and the number is set to grow further in the coming year, as reported by ch-aviation.
“The response to ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ has been fantastic and we are excited to be meeting more latent customer demand through new partnerships,” said Peter Duffy, Chief Commercial Officer, easyJet.
The interconnecting hubs model is different from traditional airline partnerships because it does not require costly interlining or codeshare agreements. Instead, easyJet is banking on passengers independently using a virtual hub or self-connect services to link their easyJet flight to a partner airline, self-connecting is often risky since it requires re-checking in, re-checking baggage and leaves passengers stranded if they miss their connecting flights.
The worldwide model, however, allows easyJet to transition from offering only short-haul intra-European flights to opening up the world to its passenger and taking some of the risk out of the independent self-connecting process. EasyJet partners in this strategy include Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Air Transat, Thomas Cook, Longair, La Compagnie, Corsair, Neos and Aurigny. Worldwide by easyJet had made its start in 2017 with Norwegian and Westjet, as the trio intersects at London’s Gatwick Airport, an easyJet hub.
The service currently allows flight connections to 13 airlines at 11 airports across Europe including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin-Tegel, Edinburgh, Inverness, London-Gatwick, Milan-Malpensa, Manchester, Paris-de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Venice-Marco Polo.
An expansion of the program would mean the number of airports where passengers can connect from an easyJet flight to a long-haul flight of another airline would increase. Munich, London and Amsterdam currently appear to be the most likely candidates for expansion, due to the airport’s being underserved by the program and the potential to partner with new airlines. However, it remains to be seen which new airports or airlines easyJet will choose for the program’s expansion.
EasyJet’s goals in the long-haul market are ambitious, as the airline aims to double its passenger numbers as a result of the international partnerships. The London-based low-cost carrier currently flies around 50 million passengers a year and worldwide is purported to have the potential to add 70 million passengers to its total numbers.
If easyJet is indeed successful with worldwide, it could mean significantly added flexibility for passengers, especially for those with connecting flights. They would no longer have to rely on one airline or an alliance to reach non-hub destinations, which, in turn, increases intercontinental competition.
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