EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall has said the low-cost carrier will refocus its efforts on cracking the holiday market.

Europe’s second-largest low cost carrier has made no secret of its ambition to establish itself among the continent’s major tour operators since launching easyJet Holidays in 2011.

However, McCall conceded that developing the holiday division had not been a key priority for the airline until now.

Speaking at a Travel Weekly Business Lunch last week, McCall said: “It’s something we have thought about quite a lot, but it’s never been as front of mind as it should be when you are dealing with 78 million passengers.

“It’s important, but it’s never been up there. To make it successful it has to be someone’s real top priority.”

But McCall added: “We are going through a process to see how we are going to do that.

“We have to give it [easyJet Holidays] its own bottom line. It has to be separated a little because otherwise the main business will overwhelm it.”

EasyJet Holidays’ accommodation is fulfilled by Spain-based partner Hotelopia, a division of bed bank Hotelbeds, under a three-year deal that is due to expire next year.

Hotelopia is licensed to carry just under 200,000 UK passengers, making it the 20th biggest tour operator in the UK.

Speaking more broadly, McCall said she believed political pressures on the British government made a reduction or scrapping of the UK aviation tax Air Passenger Duty (APD) “more likely than it has ever been”.

MPs in the Northern Ireland Unionist party the DUP have pushed for a cut in APD as part of a deal to support the Tory government following last month’s UK election which left prime minister Theresa May without an overall majority.

At the same time, the Scottish government is committed to halving APD from next year.

McCall said: “It’s hard to sustain a position where effectively we have an English APD.”

At a glance, McCall on…

Brexit: “If by 2018 we have not got an agreement, do you think people are not going to allow British airlines to fly to Europe?”

Change: “You are better off changing when you are strong than when you are not. If you have to do it out of necessity, you can make the wrong calls.”

Tourism overcrowding: “I cannot see how airlines can be responsible. We are the means to get there, we are not the cause.”

Inspiring school pupils: “Many of these kids can’t imagine working for an airline. Some have never been on a plane. Also, many girls do not think they can be a pilot.”