easyJet and Gatwick Airport sign new seven year deal

UK airline easyJet has announced a new seven year agreement with Gatwick Airport (GAL) starting April 2014, which will facilitate the airline’s growth as well as provide the framework for easyJet and GAL to further improve customer experience for the airline’s passengers.

As part of its planned expansion at Gatwick, easyJet will increase its slots and deploy larger aircraft, replacing 156- seat A319s with 180- seat A320s and, from 2017, A320Neos. By March 2015, the airline is looking to increase capacity and passenger numbers by around 10 per cent compared to the previous year.

Carolyn McCall, easyJet CEO, commented on the deal: ‘Gatwick is our largest base so it is of strategic importance to secure this new agreement with Gatwick Airport. easyJet shares the CAA’s view that Gatwick has market power but also supports the move towards a more commercial arrangement with the airport within a regulatory framework.

‘This agreement gives easyJet certainty on passenger charges over the next seven years and a clear incentive to continue to grow. More importantly, it will create a framework for easyJet and Gatwick to plan and deliver an improved experience for our passengers.

‘Our shared ambition is for Gatwick to be both our biggest and best airport.’

Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said: ‘This partnership with easyJet is a landmark deal in London Gatwick’s history. Four years after the end of the BAA monopoly at the airport, this partnership highlights how far we have come to be able to operate within a new framework of commitments and contracts.

For passengers travelling with easyJet, they will have more choice, competitive fares and an even better experience. It is positive news for both business and leisure passengers travelling with easyJet from Gatwick.’

easyJet, which started flying from London Gatwick Airport in 1999, now has 57 aircraft based there, operating on 108 routes. The airline has around 1400 cabin crew and 700 pilots operating from the airport.

Heathrow publishes ‘Operational Freedoms’ trial report

Heathrow has published a final report on the Operational Freedoms trial, which says that new procedures are needed to improve the benefit for passengers.

Heathrow operates at full capacity, and any disruption to schedules can result in late-running flights, passenger inconvenience and fuel wastage as planes burn more fuel as they wait to land. The Operational Freedoms trial was designed to assess whether a more flexible use of the airport’s runways, in certain situations, could minimise this disruption.

On reflection, the trial presented practical operational performance improvements in some areas, the report said.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s director of sustainability, says: ‘The trials have shown that implementing these new procedures could help create a more punctual and efficient Heathrow. This would bring benefits for passengers and local residents alike by reducing late-running flights, and also benefits for the environment by reducing aircraft stacking and emissions. However, we recognise that there is a need to minimise other impacts on local communities and we will continue to work with HACAN and residents to achieve this.’

The Department of Transport approved the Operational Freedoms trial in 2011, to test mechanisms for reducing delays at the UK’s hub airport. Among others, it included the use of both runways for arrivals and the use of both runways for departures, instead of the usual method of using one runway for arrivals and the other for departures.

The trial was not designed to increase the number of flights at Heathrow, but to improve reliability for those already scheduled.

The government has asked the Airports Commission to review Heathrow’s report, and also for the CAA’s own analysis of the Operational Freedoms trial and to suggest short and medium term options for the UK’s existing airport infrastructure. On publication of the Commission’s Interim Report in December, the Government will review the findings of the Airports Commission, CAA and HAL collectively to inform its next steps on Operational Freedoms.

London Luton Airport Announces Expansion Plans

London Luton Airport, an airport in the county of Bedfordshire in the UK, is expanding its capacity, according to Luton Borough Council, the owner of the facility.

Luton Airport is gearing up to expand its capacity by around 50 percent, as the airport’s owner has extended the airport operational contract with the current operator. The airport contract with London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) to operate the facility, has been extended by three years, to 2031.

The airport is currently drawing up detailed plans to increase its capacity from the present annual limit of 11.5 million passengers, to a proposed 18 million passengers, while staying within the present border and runway capabilities of the airport.

Robin Harris, the chairman of London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), the parent company of the airport’s owners, said, ‘Given Luton airport’s position as the single biggest asset owned by the people of Luton, this agreement and its potential benefits for wealth in the region’s economy are momentous.

LLAL is delighted at this step forward and at the benefits it will bring to Luton airport and to the region’s residents.’

Glyn Jones, the managing director of LLAOL, said, ‘The agreement will allow LLAOL to continue the successful work which we have been carrying out at London Luton Airport since 1998.

Last year the airport was the UK’s fastest growing major airport and this agreement will enable both parties to continue to deliver sustainable growth together, developing the airport in a positive way for partners, residents and passengers.’