Key Points:

  • EasyJet plans to return slots equivalent to three aircraft at London Gatwick Airport to British Airways in summer 2024, while taking a £3 million write-down from relinquishing slots at Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

  • The airline has applied for 90,000 slots at Gatwick for summer 2024, incorporating some for resilience against potential air traffic control disruptions.

  • EasyJet is finalizing a new six-year agreement with Gatwick Airport and seeking new traffic rights, particularly in North Africa and between Germany and Turkey.

Slot Redistribution at Gatwick and Berlin Brandenburg

LONDON — In a move to adjust its operational footprint, EasyJet has announced plans to return a significant number of slots at London Gatwick Airport to British Airways (BA) in the summer of 2024. EasyJet's Chief Commercial Officer, Sophie Dekkers, stated in the airline’s fiscal 2023 earnings call that the returned slots, amounting to "three aircraft's worth," are part of a slot agreement between the two airlines. This will reduce EasyJet's aircraft count at Gatwick from 81 to 78. Additionally, EasyJet has incurred a £3 million loss due to surrendering slots at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, initially acquired from Air Berlin in 2017.

The decision to return slots to BA follows the latter's downsizing during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent relaunch of its short-haul leisure carrier, BA Euroflyer. This slot return is part of a broader realignment within the International Airlines Group (IAG), as EasyJet has applied for 90,000 Gatwick slots for summer 2024, with around 6,000 earmarked for operational resilience.

EasyJet's New Agreement and Network Development

EasyJet is also finalizing a new six-year agreement with Gatwick Airport, extending its status as an anchor partner beyond the expiry of the current seven-year deal in April 2024. This long-term commitment underscores the airline's strategic focus on maintaining a significant presence at Gatwick.

In terms of network expansion, EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren highlighted the airline's efforts to secure additional traffic rights. Following successful negotiations for rights between Germany and Turkey, EasyJet is now eyeing further growth in markets like North Africa. The airline’s pursuit of new traffic rights is aimed at capitalizing on underrepresented markets, potentially boosting its connectivity and customer reach.

The recent decisions by EasyJet reflect a strategic recalibration in response to evolving market conditions and opportunities. As the airline adapts its slot holdings and seeks new avenues for growth, these moves illustrate its agility in navigating the dynamic aviation industry. The focus on strategic slot management and network expansion positions EasyJet expects to serve its customers while pursuing profitable growth.