Britain’s easyJet is tackling one of the big risks of using a budget airlines as part of a travel itinerary: connecting between carriers.
“Worldwide by easyJet” is being advertised as the first global airline connections service by a European low-cost carrier and aims to counter the advantage legacy carriers have with interline and codeshare agreements.
The legacy carrier agreements allow an airline to sell passengers a combined ticket for multiple sectors and offer some protection for customers in terms of guaranteeing to get them to their destination.
That means that If the first plane is late on a codeshare flight, for example, the partner airline will get the passenger on another flight.
However, a passenger who books separate tickets on a full-service airline and a budget carrier can be left in limbo if the first plane is late. This is because the journey usually involves two entirely separate contracts.
EasyJet is hoping to open up a new 70m-passenger market segment and says its new system will replicate codeshare and interline agreements using self-connect and sales partnerships through a virtual hub.
This will offer the same sort of connectivity “but more simply and efficiently”, it says.
Launch agreements with Canada’s WestJet and Norwegian at London Gatwick mean the new system already connects easyJet’s extensive European network with flights to North and South America as well as Asia.
easyJet says it is in advanced talks with other airlines, including carriers in the Middle east and far east. Plans are also underway to expand the system through other airports such as such as Milan Malpensa, Geneva, Amsterdam, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Barcelona.
The Gatwick arrangement can be used to connect to other easyJet flights and uses the GatwickConnects product to make chores such as transferring luggage easier.
Importantly, it also insures against missed connections with replacement flights, meals and hotels.
The budget carrier also does not expect any ramifications from the new model for its operating model.
It says Worldwide by easyJet will be subject to a two-hour 30 minute minimum connection time to give customers time to transfer between flights and terminals.
Passengers who miss a connecting flight will be transferred to the next available flight.
“Around 70 million passengers flying through an easyJet airport each year are connecting on to other flights, mainly long haul, and it is this market segment that Worldwide by easyJet will open up for us,’’ easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said in the airline’s announcement.
“Because of easyJet’s strong positions at Europe’s leading airports and our customer focus long haul carriers have been asking to work with easyJet for some time and the new technology platform has now allowed us to do so.
“Our own customers and those who fly with other airlines, short and long haul, have also asked us to make it easier to connect with easyJet flights and this simple booking platform makes it easy for them to do so.
“By opening this new market segment this now means that easyJet can access a greater range of passengers flying across Europe.”
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