EasyJet has recruited Tui managing director for group product and purchasing Garry Wilson as it attempts to fulfil a long-term pledge to turn easyJet Holidays into a major pan-European holiday firm.
The airline unveiled plans to” transform our holidays business” along with half-year results this week.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren, former deputy chief at Tui who took over at easyJet in December, said: “EasyJet entered the holidays market a few years ago but hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunities it has.”
EasyJet Holidays began trading in 2011 with the now-defunct Lowcost Travel Group supplying accommodation and aiming to be “in the top three to five” in the UK holiday market.
It switched partner in 2014 to Hotelbeds’ Hotelopia, then part of Tui Travel, declaring it would be “a strong number three” in Europe, relaunched its easyJet Holidays site in the UK and said it would open sites in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
But in a statement to investors this week, easyJet revealed: “Only 500,000 passengers book a hotel with us out of an addressable market of 20 million.”
Steve Endacott, Teletext Holidays chairman and former On Holiday Group chief executive, suggested easyJet Holidays stalled because the airline did not understand the holiday market.
He told Travel Weekly: “They looked at holidays as an ancillary sale. They didn’t have a tour operator running it. Now they do.”
The carrier announced it would “develop closer relationships directly with selected hotel operators” with Wilson as head of easyJet Holidays.
It said: “EasyJet has a market share, a frequency and a cost position that no one else can match, [with] a cost advantage of at least 20% over the leading operators.”
Lundgren said: “Garry has deep experience of the holiday market across easyJet’s network.”
He forecast: “EasyJet Holidays can capture a significant share of the market.”
EasyJet reported a 19.5% rise in revenue to £2.18 billion for the six months to March and an operating profit of £8 million compared with a £212 million loss a year earlier.
The carrier’s capacity for the second half of the year will be 13% up year on year across Europe against an overall market increase in short-haul capacity of 5%.
Wilson’s appointment to the airline’s management board was just one of five board appointments announced this week.
The airline has appointed Luca Zuccoli from data analytics firm Experian as chief data officer. Flic Howard-Allen will join from Associated British Foods to take over as group communications officer.
Lis Blair has moved from her role as easyJet customer relationship management and insight director to become chief marketing officer, and country director for Germany, Austria and Switzerland Thomas Haagensen has been assigned the role of group markets director.
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