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Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire,
United Kingdom - EasyJet for the first time is
prepared to talk to corporate clients about negotiated discounts, chief
executive Carolyn McCall told the Institute of Travel & Meetings annual conference
here on Wednesday. The low-cost airline is looking at corporate deals as part
of an intensifying strategy to find new growth by winning more of the corporate
"Just using easyJet gives you a bigger discount than other
airlines," she said, "but we know that if we want to grow this market
we have to do things differently, and we will engage on that."
McCall claimed that easyJet carries more passengers than British
Airways, Virgin Atlantic and British Midland combined, but the airline estimates
that only 18 percent of its customers are business travelers. Last year, easyJet
appointed its first head of corporate sales, Claire Haigh, who told BTN she had started offering to
corporate clients such soft benefits as free priority boarding. The airline
also introduced higher-priced flexible fares that include priority boarding,
one free checked bag and a waiver on booking fees.
McCall told attendees that easyJet in Scotland has been piloting fast-track
security procedures for passengers with priority boarding rights and now is looking
to extend the same facility to other airports "in the next few months."
EasyJet also has attempted to improve its distribution for the corporate
market. As well as being available on the three main global distribution systems,
McCall said the airline now has 20 "partners" for its application
programming interface, though she did not name any.
In response to attendee questions, McCall conceded that easyJet's
checked-bag policy "is not rational" and said an announcement to
restructure it is imminent. She also ruled out flying from London Heathrow,
expanding into long-haul markets or introducing a fuel surcharge. However, she
said that "it is inevitable all prices will rise. Fuel is 50 percent more
expensive than it was a year ago."