EasyJet holidays’ strong position partly due to Covid pandemic, says chief executive

EasyJet holidays’ robust post-Covid rebound and positive outlook for next year is partly thanks to the Covid pandemic, according to the operator’s chief executive.

Garry Wilson said the pause in operations enabled the company to implement strategies and systems it had planned to roll out across five years in a much shorter period of time, allowing it to grow at a rapid pace once international travel curbs were eased.

Wilson also praised the role of the trade in the company’s development, during an on-stage interview at Abta’s 2023 Travel Convention in Bodrum.

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“We’re in a really strong position now and I think a lot of that is due to what happened in Covid,” he said. “It gave us a chance to re-engineer our processes and think about how customers would perceive holidays in the future,

“It allowed us to focus on the things we had planned to do in the coming five years at a quicker pace. That meant that when we came out of Covid in 2022, we were in a much stronger position to scale our business – and we’ve scaled very quickly.”

EasyJet holidays will carry about two million passengers this year, up from one million last year in its first full year of operation.

It increased its capacity by 771,000 in October, taking its Atol close to 2.3 million passengers and bringing it within the top five, but Wilson said he feels the industry has an “unhealthy obsession” with Atol rankings.

Wilson said the level of sustained demand following the pandemic has surprised him, as he predicted it would be a short-term bounce-back once international travel restrictions were lifted.

“We knew people had saved up and hadn’t travelled and there would therefore be an explosion of holidays in the months after Covid,” he said.

“The fear was that we thought that would slow down and would return to normal, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, the prioritisation of travel has continued, so that optimism we had is still there.”

Wilson believes there has been a “shift” in how customers think about travel after the pandemic, saying people now treat it as a necessity rather than a luxury, despite mounting financial pressures.

“Consumers are much more aware of the benefits of travel now,” he told conference delegates.

He said he has also been surprised by the “crucial” role the trade has played in the rapid growth of the company.

“The relationship we have with travel agents has far exceeded our expectations,” he added. “It’s an increasingly popular distribution model for us and I think a significant portion of our targeted growth will come from our partner travel agents.”

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