EasyJet plans to transform its holidays arm under a new boss poached from Tui to attract more holidaymakers.
As part of the revamp, Garry Wilson was today named as new head of easyJet Holidays, reporting to group chief executive Johan Lundgren, former deputy chief executive of Tui.
The budget carrier plans to invest both capital and operational expenditure in the holidays business under Wilson, previously Tui Group product and purchasing managing director.
EasyJet believes there is a “significant opportunity” to transform its holidays proposition.
This would be based on its existing network of destinations and frequencies, low-cost operations, customer base “and the ability to develop a proposition that is aligned with the easyJet brand”.
“Currently only 500,000 passengers book a hotel with us out of an addressable market of 20 million. We see an opportunity to add significant value by forming a dedicated business unit offering a clear and attractive proposition, based on efficient technology and data,” the airline said.
“On the biggest and most attractive flows into the most popular destinations in Europe easyJet has a market share, a frequency and most importantly a cost position that no one else can match. easyJet has a cost advantage of at least 20% over the leading operators which allows us to offer great value to our customers.”
The airline plans to develop “closer and strong” relationships directly with selected hotel firms.
“By combining a quality, great value hotel offer with the flexibility of multiple frequencies to major European destinations, easyJet will deliver a better value proposition for our customers,” the airline said.
Lundgren, revealing five changes to the airline’s management board, said: “Garry has 20 years’ experience in the holiday sector and is currently Tui Group’s managing director for group product and purchasing.
“Garry leads procurement and commercial activity for all hotel partners and other suppliers. Garry has deep experience of the holiday market across easyJet’s network.
“Garry will set up and lead a dedicated unit within the easyJet group and will be responsible for accelerating the development of easyJet Holidays.
“EasyJet entered the holidays market a few years ago but hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunities it has in this area.
“EasyJet has Europe’s largest leisure network from primary airports to leisure destinations, a well-loved, trusted brand, a cost advantage over the leading competitors and a customer base with high spending power.
“EasyJet Holidays can use this platform and easyJet’s scale to capture a significant share of the market.
Wilson said: “I’m very excited to become part of easyJet and look forward to working with such a highly regarded team and well respected brand.
“Over the years I have watched the growth and expansion of easyJet and having the opportunity to be part of the next chapter in their success is a great honour.”
A new chief data officer, Luca Zuccoli, has been appointed from Experian as the airline plans to use its data and digital capability to support the holidays proposition, driving ancillary revenue and the overall average booking value.
EasyJet will further develop its website and booking process and add data-driven customisation “to maximise the attraction to passengers”.
Other new appointments include the promotion of CRM and insight director Lis Blair to chief marketing officer and former Marks and Spencer communications boss Flic Howard-Allen as group communications officer. She joins from Primark and Twinings owner Associated British Foods.
Thomas Haagensen has been appointed from country director for Germany, Austria and Switzerland to the newly-created role of group markets director. He is also managing director of Vienna-based easyJet Europe.
The changes emerged as easyJet reported a winter profit excluding costs of starting flights from Berlin Tegal airport.
The UK budget carrier achieved a £220 million financial turnaround to produce a pre-tax profit of £8 million for the six months to March 31.
However, the airline suffered a loss of £68 million for the period including the costs of starting the German operation following the collapse of Air Berlin and the sale and leaseback of ten Airbus A319s.
Lundgren said: “EasyJet has delivered an excellent performance reporting a profit of £8 million, one of our best results ever in the winter trading period, excluding the one-off impact of the start-up of our Tegel operation.
“Total revenue was above £2 billion for the first time, up almost 20% year-on-year. This was driven by a record number of passengers at 37 million and our highest ever ancillary sales due to giving passengers more options and lower prices on hold luggage along with our improved inflight bistro.
“Our performance was helped by the reductions in capacity from other airlines but was also driven by the strength of the easyJet brand which is now the most considered airline brand in the UK, moving ahead of BA for the first time.
“We also reached the milestone of carrying 13 million business travellers a year – partly supported by the increase in city to city routes as we successfully started operations in Berlin Tegel.
“I also outlined new investments to harness the power of our data to improve our customer proposition, reduce costs and increase revenue. All of these initiatives will provide higher profit per seat and higher returns for our shareholders.”
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