Legacy carriers are facing increased competition from low-cost airlines in all segments. Over the past few years, low-cost long-haul has exploded, and we now have Norwegian, WOW Air, WestJet, AirAsia and many more offering no-frills service from North America to other continents.
Traditionally, low-cost airlines have been regional and focused on short-haul flying, especially the biggest names such as Southwest, Ryanair and EasyJet. Things are clearly changing. JetBlue now wants to start transatlantic flights, while the European airlines are finding their own innovative solutions to join the growing market.
In the latest news, EasyJet, Norwegian and WestJet have announced a partnership to offer connecting flights through Gatwick to North and South America.
EasyJet has a bigger European network than Norwegian, while Norwegian serves a dozen long-haul destinations from Gatwick, so there will be a lot of new connection opportunities for each airline. The concept is called “Worldwide by EasyJet” and will utilize GatwickConnects services. This is exciting, in theory, and will open up a lot of new destinations for Americans looking to fly low-cost to Europe.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few issues with this new service. Firstly, the minimum connection time will be an insane 150 minutes. In comparison, Frankfurt and Munich have 45 and 30 minute minimum connection times, respectively.
Essentially, the only difference is that you can now purchase your flights on the same ticket. You’ll still be required to collect your bags and recheck them at flight connections. There is also no mention of the fact that EasyJet and Norwegian operate from different terminals at Gatwick. Since there are no connecting buses, assuming no changes are made, you’ll have to take a transit train and reclear security. Smooth connection, huh? WestJet should be a little smoother, but their long-haul fleet looks like it should be avoided.
Historically, Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos and Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary have been quite close, so I’m surprised to see this partnership with EasyJet. The more competition the better, in most cases. I look forward to seeing how this develops.