easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall stated the airline is considering co-branding links with mobile phone service providers in a bid to step up marketing as part of a new sales growth strategy (Dow Jones Newswires, 28-Mar-2011). The airline has announced a marketing partnership with VisitBritain, which will see both parties invest a total of GBP18 million to market the UK as a tourist destination. Half the investment will be provided by the government with the balance to come from easyJet in the form of cash and promotional services. Ms McCall stated easyJet wouldn't add extra capacity for the 2012 Olympics, but said it would benefit from improved yields as demand pushes up fares. easyJet's contribution to the campaign will focus mainly on France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. easyJet is "open to talk to anyone" regarding similar partnerships, according to the CEO, but she added it would limit the number of similar ventures as it doesn't want to dilute its own brand.
easyJet steps up marketing strategy
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Many of Europe's leading airline groups are acknowledging the importance of establishing dedicated incubator and/or accelerator programmes to innovate in digital technology. On 24-Apr-2017 IAG announced that it had invested in two new technology companies – Esplorio and Vchain Tech. These are the first two investments under its Hangar 51 accelerator programme in partnership with L Marks, an innovation specialist and early stage investor.
IAG's investments followed easyJet's announcement earlier this year that its partnership with the incubator Founders Factory had selected two travel startups for its accelerator programme. The Lufthansa Group established its Innovation Hub in 2014 and started a new partnership with Californian startup investor ‘Plug and Play’ in 2016. While these three groups chose external partners, Ryanair has its inhouse Labs team, set up in 2014. Air France-KLM is alone among Europe's big five airline groups in not having a distinct and dedicated digital incubator/accelerator programme, but it has recognised digital's strategic importance.
Much of the airlines' rhetoric concerning these developments suggests that they are trying to associate themselves with the forces of disruption, but this will take more than rhetoric. CAPA has argued previously that the airline industry has been slow to prepare for disruption, but some are at least making a start.
Europe summer 2017 airline capacity outlook: fifth successive summer of above trend seat growth
Airline seat growth from Europe in summer 2017 is set to stay at almost 6% for the third successive summer, according to data from OAG. This rate had not previously been reached since 2010, although this will be the fifth straight summer of growth ahead of its 10 year average rate. The summer 2017 season started on 26-Mar-2017 and, although always subject to further change, the data give a fairly clear picture.
Seat capacity on routes from Europe to Africa will grow the fastest, as the region recovers from a terrorism related drop in demand in North Africa. There will also be above trend growth in almost every other region from Europe (including intra Europe). The only exception is Europe-Middle East, where the newly cautious Gulf airlines' growth is slowing this summer.
On the North Atlantic, always important for the profitability of Europe's leading legacy airlines, growth will be faster than its 10 year trend, but it will at least be a little slower than in the past summer. The loss of market share from the immunised North Atlantic JVs to newer and smaller competitors, including LCCs, is set to continue. As ever, the OAG capacity data provide a window into the changing structure of the airline markets from Europe.