Easyjet CEO talks up the brand’s ‘gamechanging’ impact on travel over the last 20 years

Easyjet’s low cost, no frills approach to flying is the reason people now view travelling across Europe as an easy task, according to chief executive Carolyn McCall, as the brand celebrates its 20th anniversary.

On this day 20 years ago the airline launched its first flight to Glasgow. Now it’s the UK’s largest airline with 250 aircraft, operating on over 600 routes to more than 30 countries. Not bad for a business that has taken some risks in order to get ahead, including cutting out travel agents’ fees by getting fliers to book direct. It’s the company’s adaption to the internet with gambles like this over the last two decades and the expectations from customers that those changes have created that have given Easyjet the confidence for the next 20 years.

When the airline launched 20 years ago “we were nothing,” McCall told the BBC this morning (10 November). “The challenges were enormous to establish Easyjet to what is now one of the most known brands in Europe.

“We’re dealing with a different world, a world where actually customer expectations are very high now. They can get on a plane and go virtually anywhere in a day within Europe and beyond and that’s what people do. I think consumer behaviour around travel because of Easjyet has really changed over the last 20 years.”

The latest challenge for the business and its brand is ensuring that stranded passengers in Sharm el-Sheikh get home safely in the wake of the downing of a Russian passenger jet. The airline, along with Monarch, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook, has extended the period of suspended outgoing flights to the resort up to 25 November and is flying those customers still there back home. In the short-term, McCall said it would be “led by the government” as to whether it can fly to Sharm el-Sheikh. However, in the long-term it will decide based on demand.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.