easyJet Heathrow base: 79 potential routes revealed at anna.aero-RABA HubLAB conference

easyJet’s Chief Commercial & Strategy Officer, Robert Carey, gives the Star Presentation at HubLAB. Carey said easyJet’s plans for a potential base at an expanded Heathrow could see it serving up to 18 domestic destinations including 12 currently unserved UK airports. Carey also said it was considering 61 potential destinations in Europe.

Following hot on the heels of the recent Cabinet approval for Heathrow Expansion, including a third runway, the anna.aero-RABA HubLAB Heathrow Connectivity Conference took place at the third British-Irish Airports EXPO on 12 June in collaboration with the 40 UK airports of the Regional And Business Airports Group (RABA). The EXPO, which was hosted by Heathrow at London Olympia, was attended by more than 3,095 visitors from 12-13 June. Speakers at the Heathrow Connectivity Conference included ministerial representatives from the UK and Scottish governments, key airlines with Heathrow ambitions (and over 100 airline delegates) and UK and European airports keen to make their case for access to an expanded Heathrow. 

The headline presentation was given by easyJet’s Chief Commercial & Strategy Officer Robert Carey who laid out the LCC’s plans for a potential base at an expanded Heathrow. This included 18 possible domestic connections including 12 UK airports currently without Heathrow links and a further 61 markets in Europe, 45 of which are not served from Heathrow at this time. Carey also suggested that easyJet could bring competition and lower fares to existing routes at Heathrow. Joining Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye on the platfrom, the UK Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, suggested up to 15% of the new slots made available at an expanded Heathrow should be ring-fenced for domestic services. 

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More substance than Trump-meets-Kim Jong-Un: It is very rare to see a UK and Scottish Government Minister on the same platform in London. It is rarer still to have them say the same things. UK Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said up to 15% of the new slots created from the building a third runway should be reserved for domestic services and said that the government would consider ring-fencing slots for Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes. Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands for the Scottish Government, was very detailed in his support, emphasising the importance of connectivity to Scotland and highlighting how 40% of long-haul visitors to Scotland travel via Heathrow. On stage: John Holland-Kaye, CEO, Heathrow Airport; Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, Department for Transport; Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands for the Scottish Government; and Graham Bolton, Chairman, British Aviation Group.

Flybe’s interest in growing its presence at an expanded Heathrow was articulated by the airline’s Director of Communications, Simon McNamara. As a former Director General of the European Regions Airlines Association, McNamara has a good grasp on the importance of regional connectivity: “One of our core markets is connecting the UK and connecting domestic points.” McNamara said that the airline’s current routes from Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh are performing ahead of expectations in terms of load factors. “We operate from 31 UK airports so we have a lot of connectivity and a lot of potential to operate from those airports into Heathrow.” McNamara added: “We will expand at Heathrow if the conditions are right.” McNamara’s three Heathrow conditions:
• Right costs and charging;
• Heathrow access at the right time of day (slots must suit business-focus);
• Reform of UK’s Air Passenger Duty – zero rate for domestic flights (good luck Simon).

Marc Darby, CEO of Channel Islands regional operator Aurigny (second, right), made the case for accessing slots at an expanded Heathrow. The Channel Islands have been without a connection to Heathrow since Jersey dropped off the route network in 2009 and Aurigny’s Guernsey base has been without a link for even longer. Darby emphasised the importance of the international connectivity offered by Heathrow. “It’s a great opportunity. If the slots become available, would we be there? Yes we would.” He set out five key points that would make a Heathrow service from Guernsey viable from Aurigny’s perspective. Darby’s five Heathrow conditions:
• Guaranteed slots (ideally four per day);
• Major airline codeshare partners;
• Supportive (Heathrow) airport partnership;
• Access to the right terminal (depending on codeshare);
• Heathrow’s willingness to accept the occasional ATR 72.

The HubLAB Heathrow Connectivity Conference was a joint venture between anna.aero and RABA. The airport group  represents 40 UK airports with under three million passengers and the HubLAB Heathrow Connectivity Conference comprised its Annual Conference at the British-Irish Airports EXPO on 12 June. RABA Chairman, Neil Pakey moderated HubLAB alongside anna.aero’s Jonathan Ford. “On behalf of our 40 members, RABA has put its flag in the ground and said Heathrow is the solution for us and the solution for regional connectivity,” said Pakey, the former boss of Liverpool and Shannon airports. “We wanted to make sure there would be a regional perspective as part of the debate, and we are particularly keen to see the unserved regions of the UK getting connected over an expanded Heathrow.”

HubLAB included presentations from four regional airports from the UK and Europe, keen to highlight their business cases for services to an expanded Heathrow. Speakers included Al Titterington, MD, Cornwall Airport Newquay; Inglis Lyon, MD, of the 11 Highlands & Islands Airports (HIAL); Emily James, Head of Marketing and Route Development, Bergerac Airport; and Dean Boljuncic, Head of Route Development, Eindhoven Airport. Titterington voiced his belief that a Heathrow link would grow Newquay’s primary London airport market by up to 30% compared to the current 165,000 annual passengers, by allowing travellers to connect globally via Heathrow. From the Scottish perspective, Lyon said: “For remote regions like ours to flourish they have to be connected to the international hub that is Heathrow, and just as importantly, access to Heathrow has to be guaranteed.” James drew attention to the number of UK connections to Bergerac and the large British expat community living in the Dordogne region: “We are basically a domestic airport for the UK, Heathrow is our Paris, it’s our domestic capital, it’s where we (expats) want to come home to.” Finally Boljuncic explained how Eindhoven is the largest airport in Europe without flights from a full-service national carrier or a major European hub connection. He emphasised the strong demand from from hi-tech companies looking to connect over the London hub to reach the global headquarters of Philips.

easyjet’s Chief Commercial & Strategy Officer Robert Carey said the airline has identified 18 potential domestic markets that it could serve from Heathrow, with 12 of these being new routes. New routes included Jersey, Guernsey, Newquay, Exeter, Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, Humberside, Durham Tees Valley, Isle of Man, Belfast International, Derry, and Glasgow Prestwick. Potential European routes listed in the presentation included Bordeaux, Montpellier, Porto, Seville, Verona, Naples, Marrakech, and Lanzarote. Carey’s quotes:
“Heathrow is the next natural step for us.”
“In Europe there’s 61 potential markets, 16 for growth and 45 new.”
“We already know we can operate from large hub airports like Heathrow. We do this at Paris CDG and Amsterdam.”
“Our experience is when we enter a new market in competition with legacy airlines we can offer fares that are about 30% lower.”
“easyJet would look to connect passengers to long-haul destinations by bringing our ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ connecting product Heathrow; we see particular opportunities to partner with long-haul carriers that are not part of the oneworld alliance.”

Cork Airport’s Kevin Cullinane is a British-Irish Airports Unsung Hero! The awards were presented by Paul Hogan, anna.aero Publisher, and Director of the British-Irish Airports EXPO to winners in three categories: Airports under three million passengers; Airports over three million passengers; and the Partner/Vendor/Supplier catergory. Besides Kevin Cullinane, Head of Communications, daa Cork Airport, the other winners were: Andy Knight, Aircraft Operations Manager, Heathrow, and Jaswinder Riat, Inter-terminal driver, OmniServ.

The Cake: UK Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, cuts the cake to mark the start of the EXPO alongside Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands for the Scottish Government; John Holland-Kaye, CEO, Heathrow, Neil Pakey, Chairman, RABA; Paul Hogan, anna.aero Publisher, and Director of the British-Irish Airports EXPO; and Graham Bolton, Chairman, British Aviation Group.


Comments

  1. Chris Cain says:

    Great job on the Expo Paul and team; great event – always something of interest going on throughout the two days. Congratulations to all.

  2. Rob Cooze says:

    With the potential of an Easyjet base at LHR can only be a good thing for the industry, competition, and travellers alike.

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