‘It’s important to get frequency up’ - CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays discusses his strategy for flights out of Stansted
- Credit: Archant
Steve Heapy would like to see an increase in the number of flights from the Essex airport to key destinations in the Mediterranean.
Mr Heapy says he believes “in keeping it simple” so that customers know they can fly daily and sometimes more than that to destinations such as Malaga, Faro and Tenerife.
At the moment the flights to Malaga and Faro operate 12 and seven times a week respectively but Mr Heapy said upping the frequency of these and other services is an “important” part of the airline’s strategy at the Essex Airport.
Having grown its business from northern regional airports since 2003, Jet2com launched flights from Stansted in March 2017 originally operating six planes and in the past two years has witnessed double-digit growth there.
In 2018, the company increased the number of planes operating from Stansted to ten while in 2019 it plans to expand its fleet to 12 aircraft.
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When the operator first started at Stansted, 21 destinations and over 8,000 seats went on sale, now 1.8 million seats are on sale for summer 2019 alone, representing a 25% year on year growth in capacity.
This summer holidaymakers can fly to 42 destinations from London Stansted with Jet2.com and Jet2 holidays, including three new locations: Bourgas in Bulgaria, Chania in Crete and Ismir in Turkey.
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“We opened at Stansted when we did because it’s a very full airport and we thought over the next couple of years it would become too full to allow additional capacity, and we timed it just right”, said Mr Heapy.
“There’s a big demand for another product there. It’s been heavily dominated by one airline, Ryanair, and we launched our services to provide flight only services and package holidays. There wasn’t a lot of package holidays from Stansted because a lot of it was dynamically packaged with Ryanair flights and a bed from somewhere else. So we were offering people in the East of England the opportunity to book a product they would probably default to Gatwick for previously.
“There’s a lot of people who drive past Stansted over the Dartford Crossing and around to Gatwick, now we offer the product which means they don’t have to do that and they can just pull off the M11. For a lot of our other airports we do daily services to Majorca, Faroe and Tenerife and what we want to do is provide a flight whenever people want to go.
He added: “We believe in keeping it simple, not ‘you can go any day as long as it’s not a Wednesday in August’ – what I’d like to get to is that you can go any day you want, you can go daily. There’s no ifs and buts, there’s no exceptions, it’s just if you want to go, you go with us, you can fly every day. I think it’s quite important to get the frequency up.”
Mr Heapy’s comments came as the company marked a major milestone by taking formal delivery of the last of 34 brand new Next Generation 737-800 aircraft from Boeing – taking the number of aircraft across its UK fleet to 100.
The brand new aircraft, which seats 189 passengers, was handed over at a ceremony at Boeing’s Seattle Delivery Centre in the United States last month. It was delivered without the company’s distinctive livery, which is added back here in the UK.
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have been bringing the Boeing 737-800NGs into their fleets since September 2016 and together the 34 aircraft have an approximate list price of $3.3 billion, however the company says its has “negotiated significant discounts from this price”.
It says the fleet of new aircraft will enable it to continue its growth and development strategy, meaning it can fly more package holidays (with Jet2holidays) and flight-only customers (with Jet2.com) to sunshine, ski, and city destinations across Europe, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean.
In the 15 years since the company first started with flights from Leeds Bradford Airport, it has expanded to operate from nine UK bases including airports at Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.
At many airports it growth was helped by taking up slots vacated following the collapse of Monarch Airlines.
From a standing start in 2003, Jet2.com is now the UK’s third largest airline, while Jet2holidays is the second largest tour operator.
The company’s flight-only product was used by 5.37 million passengers in the last financial year to March 31 2018, a growth of 48% year-on-year, whilst Jet2holidays took 2.5 million customers away for a packaged break, an increase of 45% year-on-year.
And the company is hoping to sustain this upward trajectory with Stansted very much part of its growth plans.
Mr Heapy continued: “We do a lot of research before we put any extra capacity on, we look at CA statistics for airports, we speak to our customers through questionnaires and we look at previous sales and trends, hotel prices, airport landing fees – there’s a lot of things we look at to see if it’s viable to start another flight somewhere.”
He added: “At the start we did play a bit on our northern roots as a company but we are now a national company.
“The good thing about a holiday is that anyone can relate to it, it’s not complicated – we are selling something that everyone will have experienced.
“Everybody knows what they want from a good holiday, I want to be treated like a king, I want everything to go smoothly, I want someone there if something goes wrong and I want things to be clean,
“It’s not difficult, you have to concentrate on what’s important and put yourself in the customer’s shoes but not a lot of companies seem to do that.”