EasyJet to acquire 25 pairs of London Gatwick slots from Flybe

EasyJet (UK) (easyJet.com) (London-Luton) has announced and confirmed it plans to acquire 25 pairs of arrival and departure slots London’s Gatwick Airport from Flybe (Exeter) for £20 million ($25.7 million). The company issued this statement:

EasyJet plc can confirm it has completed an agreement with Flybe Group plc to acquire 25 pairs of arrival and departure slots at Gatwick airport for a total consideration of £20 million. The acquisition is subject to the approval of Flybe’s shareholders.

The slots will transfer from summer 2014 and will allow easyJet to provide additional frequencies on popular existing routes from Gatwick as well as add new destinations across the UK and Europe.

In return, Flybe issued this statement:

Flybe confirmed to the London Stock Exchange today at 0700 that it has sold its arrival and departure slots at London Gatwick airport, thus bringing to an end Flybe’s 22 year record of providing high-frequency air services from the UK regions to the airport. Flybe will continue to fly all its routes until the end of March 2014. The slots have been sold to EasyJet for a cash sum of £20 million.

The decision is as a result of the pricing regime applied by the airport’s owners to the operators of smaller, regional aircraft which, in Flybe’s case, has resulted in a 102% rise over the last five years. In a well-publicised, lengthy and expensive complaint, the airline used the Airports Act 1986 to argue to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 2010 that Gatwick was acting in an anti-competitive and discriminatory manner. Despite support from other airlines, communities and governments around the British Isles, the fact that Flybe operates more UK domestic flights than any other airline and has won the airport’s Gold Award for punctuality in every quarter since its introduction in 2009, the CAA ruled in September 2012 that Gatwick was within its rights to raise their landing fees for smaller aircraft, thus paving the way for today’s regrettable announcement.

Flybe will continue to operate as normal all its seven domestic Gatwick routes – from Belfast City, Guernsey, Inverness, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Newcastle and Newquay – until Saturday March 29, 2014, with no changes to pricing, frequency or timings. It also confirmed that there will be no impact upon any other route currently operated from those seven airports and that the funds generated by the sale of the slots will be re-invested in the remaining 159 Flybe routes.

Separate to this announcement, Flybe today updated the London Stock Exchange on the significant positive progress it has made in its plan to return Flybe UK, its UK based scheduled airline, to profitability. Highlights included surpassing its target savings of £25m, with £30m of annual cost savings being delivered for year 2013/14 onwards, and the deal agreed in principle with BALPA (British Airlines Pilots Association) for a 5% reduction in salary in return for extra time off.

Top Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best. EasyJet’s Airbus A320-214 G-EZTD (msn 3909) holds short of the runway ready for departure from London (Gatwick).

EasyJet (UK): AG Slide Show

Flybe: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Keith Burton. Flybe’s Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) G-JEDW (msn 4093) arrives at Gatwick Airport.

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Flybe LGW Route Map: Flybe flies to mainly UK domestic destinations from LGW:

Flybe LGW 5:2013 Route Map