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Flying high, costing less

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Flying high, costing less

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Rising fuel costs and austerity hit passengers have national flag carrier airlines under pressure. As a result, they are trying to muscle in on the low-cost sector by launching their own no-frills airlines.

How much of an effect is that having on the likes of the long established carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet?

Speaking to euronews, its chief executive Carolyn McCall insisted they can cope with the latest competition: “Low fares airlines have completely transformed travelling in Europe. They have made it accessible, they have made it reasonable. More people travel now than ever before. I think what Easyjet does really, really well is it has this incredibly strong network now, actually 60 percent of our passengers now originate in Europe. We are very, very strong at connecting people throughout Europe.”

Last week Air France became the latest to launch a budget airline, but McCall said the low-cost companies have the advantage: “I think in terms of the structural change of the airline industry it is the low-fare airlines that are going to be the winners, as they are demonstrating now and as for other legacy carriers launching low-cost I think it is a difficult thing to pull off. I think you are either a low fares airline and it’s in your DNA, it’s what you do and it’s about focusing on what you’re good at, which for us is short-haul Europe. We believe we’ll be more successful because of that positioning than other low-fare airlines. But I agree with you, I think value is the future.”

The airline has just started services from Southend, trying to make it London’s fourth airport, which demonstrates the advantages and limitations of low-costs.

Carolyn McCall, said: “I think London Southend is a particular example of us being quite opportunistic. Our strategy is actually to fly into primary airports, why Southend fits into this – although it’s clearly not a primary airport – is because it is a London airport and capacity in London is in short supply.”

That exact point was raised by Easyjet and the heads of three other leading airlines recently with regard to this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

In a blunt letter to transport chiefs, British Airways, bmi, Virgin Atlantic and Easyjet warned the British government that during the games there could be chaos at London’s airports because of the expected surge in air traffic and its impact.

They said time was running out to tackle the problem.

But their call for scheduled flights to be given priority over business jets and smaller aircraft during the game was rejected by Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority

The CAA said that would be difficult to do and may well not be legal.

e given priority over business jets and smaller aircraft during the game was rejected by Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority

The CAA said that would be difficult to do and may well not be legal.

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