easyJet chairman John Barton explains the absence of CEO Carolyn McCall: “She’s on her way back from New York after negotiations with a major supplier” – presumably for engines.
anna.aero was delighted to be again invited to this powerful annual gathering on the historic Terrace of the Houses of Parliament. easyJet has friends across the political spectrum – and very much across the UK – with many airports attending, taking advantage of the happy coincidence of the Airport Operators Annual Dinner on the previous evening. While the event is overwhelmingly a social evening, easyJet stressed some important corporate messages, while some topical guests also took the same, albeit surprising opportunity.
Gavin Shuker, the Labour MP for Luton South, the (rotating) host of this reception, and apparently an honorary easyJet cabin crew member – proudly showing the badge presented during the launch of London Luton – Venice services. Shuker related how the route had been launched on St Valentine’s day: “Packed with Luton citizens in search of romance… and seven Venetian citizens also flew to Luton.” The ever civic-proud Shuker also repeated the assertion that “Luton is John Travolta’s favourite airport.”
Lots of airports always attend: London Gatwick’s CCO Guy Stephenson, and Alan McIntyre, easyJet’s Director of Product Proposition (promoted from Head of Network and Scheduling in January).
And more easyJet airport partners – this cheerful group includes Mark Povall, Director Air Service Development, Liverpool Airport; Chris Sanders, Aviation Development Director, Newcastle Airport; and Tony “Permasmile” Hallwood, Aviation Development Director, Leeds Bradford Airport.
Sophie Dekkers (holding plane) is the just-appointed Director, UK Market “responsible for driving the airline’s commercial success and strategic direction in the UK.” Dekkers took the opportunity to remind parliamentarians that (according to the joint easyJet, British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin PriceWaterhouseCoopers study) Air Passenger Duty costs the UK economy £16 billion ($26 billion) every three years.
Margaret Thatcher’s former Chancellor Lord Lawson – an architect of much of the UK’s now universally-accepted enterprise culture (but nowadays more readily known as Nigella’s dad) with Thanasis Bakos, Public Affairs Assistant, and Paul Moore, Communications Director.
The bearded man with the guide dog (Sadie) is David Blunkett, former Home Secretary in the Blair government, chatting with a laughing Peter Duffy, easyJet Marketing Director. Blunkett, the MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, is also the chairman of easyJet’s Special Assistance Advisory Group (ESAAG), which provides guidance on policies and procedures for the 300,000 passengers needing special assistance.
Russians welcome (airline) invasion: The surprise of the night was Dmitry Kalmykov, Head of Russia’s Trade Delegation to the UK – seen here very much lobbying both the easyJet Chairman John Barton and Robert Goodwill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport. “Russian regions are open for business – it’s true that flights from London to Moscow and St Petersburg are designated, but not to Ekaterinburg, not to Samara… when Russia hosts the World Cup in 2018 people from Birmingham will need to get to Samara and may have to fly Lufthansa which does serve the city – easyJet could fly Birmingham-Moscow tomorrow – a market of up to 50,000.”
easyJet’s only Icelandic captain and brand ambassador David Asgeirsson cheerfully welcomes anna.aero Publisher Paul Hogan. David, currently based at London Gatwick, is additionally excited because he is about to move with his family to easyJet’s new Hamburg base.