EasyJet plans fast-track security to woo high-spending business travellers
EasyJet said it will court business travellers with fast-track security.
The UK-based budget airline will offer passengers the option to skip the queue for security checks in a bid to attract more business travellers.
The new service comes as an added benefit to the airline's flexible fares, which allow passengers to change their flight time without incurring a fee.
Attracting more business travellers, who typically pay higher fares by booking closer to the time of travel, forms a key pillar of EasyJet's ambitious growth plans under chief executive Carolyn McCall, who guided the airline into the benchmark FTSE 100 index in March.
Since she took over in 2010 EasyJet has added flights between top business destinations, introduced flexible tickets and offered allocated seating in an attempt to steal corporate customers from airlines such as British Airways.
The budget carrier's plans were unveiled as it posted its best winter season in five years, when its pre-tax loss narrowed 45.5pc to £61m (€72m) in the six months to the end of March. Short-haul airlines typically generate their profits in the busy summer holiday period.
"EasyJet delivered a strong first-half performance, demonstrating the company's structural advantage in the European short-haul market against both legacy and low-cost competition, and a continuing resilience against a challenging European macro-economic environment," said Ms McCall.
The budget airline has shrugged off economic gloom in the continent to grow capacity where many of its rivals have scaled back. It believed to be among bidders for Flybe's 25 runway slots at Gatwick.
A strong set of half-year results yesterday came ahead of a much-awaited multi-billion pound order for 100 to 200 new aircraft, which is expected within weeks, a move which could almost double its current 217-strong fleet.
EasyJet said yesterday that it cut its losses in half in the six months to April and is nearing a decision on whether to upgrade its fleet with updated Airbus or Boeing jets.
Europe's second-largest budget carrier behind Ryanair said it was in the "final stages" of choosing whether to go with re-engined Airbus A320neo planes or Boeing's 737 MAX.
The airline is looking at buying up to 200 of the new, fuel-efficient planes, which are not available until 2017 and 2018, so it is also negotiating a bridging deal.
EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said: "This year is the year we will know whether we are making a recommendation to upgrade the fleet or not . . . we want to get the right terms and the right price so we may recommend (a deal) or we may not."
However, an industry source said talks between EasyJet and the planemakers were going down to the wire with a decision in principle possible within days. The decision is likely to loom large over next month's Paris air show as Airbus and Boeing battle for market share in the largest segment of market, worth an estimated $2 trillion over the next 20 years.
EasyJet, which operates an all-Airbus fleet of 213 aircraft, wants to remain a single-manufacturer fleet, but is considering moving entirely to Boeing planes.
If Boeing were to be successful it would have to cover the cost of EasyJet having a dual fleet for a certain period of time. Operating a single manufacturer fleet saves an airline on maintenance and training costs.
The airline reported a pretax loss of £61m for its first half ending in March, down from a loss of £112m a year ago. (© Daily Telegraph, London)