Magazine article Marketing

EasyRider

Magazine article Marketing

EasyRider

Article excerpt

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," laughs Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the 30-year-old founder and owner of EasyJet, at the news that British Airways is considering following in his slipstream and launching its own budget airline brand.

Any words of advice to BA chief executive Bob Ayling? "Good luck to you, but you're going to fail. You can only do it if you have a clean sheet to start with."

Most industry observers certainly expected failure in November 1995, when Haji-Ioannou put [pounds]30m of his - or rather his Greek shipping-magnate father's - money into starting up the airline that now claims one-third of the lucrative London to Nice route.

Now, nearly two years since EasyJet's launch, his distinctive orange planes with the company's number emblazoned along the fuselage are still in the air and more are on the way.

He is on the brink of buying a further 12 planes, taking his fleet up to 18, and aims to carry six million passengers a year within the next two years.

If it all seems so easy, then why is recent aviation history littered with the names of companies that have, well, dropped out of the sky - Laker being the most famous?

Stelios says that low prices alone keep him in the skies - no tickets, no travel agents, no network tie-ups, no on-board food or massages, or whatever it is airlines are waving in front of customers to get them on board. That is why EasyJet can offer a [pounds]29 one-way flight to Glasgow from its Luton Airport base.

He dismisses the notion that the public, and the British in particular, regard air travel as a luxury and want to be treated accordingly. 'It doesn't matter whether you're Chinese, Arabic or English, if you are paying for it then you'll respond in the same way - by looking for the best price,' he says.

The formula is simple. People book by phone, are given a PIN number, turn up, check in, take off and land - a process that is often speedier than that of EasyJet's larger rivals.

Once on board, passengers are served by cabin crews dressed in jeans and orange sweatshirts, emphasising the casual, friendly attitude of the company while neatly masking the cost-cutting.

Any extras, such as food and drink, are paid for by passengers. If you want on-board Cordon Bleu you pay for it in the ticket price, according to the EasyJet logic. …

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