By Kurt Hofmann, ATW Daily News
EasyJet is continuing its expansion out of Berlin, which has become a focus city for the UK LCC, and is part of its strategy to hold dominant market shares in the large European cities where it has bases.
EasyJet Europe CEO Thomas Haagensen said that by 2019, the airline will have 25 aircraft and more than 1,000 employees based at Berlin-Tegel Airport. The airline is acquiring 25 Airbus A320s that previously belonged to airberlin, which ceased operations in 2017. The company is wet-leasing 10 aircraft until all the airberlin A320s are delivered.
"This year our focus is on Berlin and we will continue to undergo our capacity expansion. With the takeover of the 25 former airberlin Airbus A320 family aircraft, we expect our passenger numbers to rise from 5 million to 15 million passengers per year in the German capital," Haagensen said.
Twelve Airbus A319/320s based at Berlin's second airport, Schoenefeld, will remain there.
Haagensen said easyJet's market share in Germany is about 7%-8%, but will grow significantly.
In preparation for Brexit in March 2019--when the UK will leave the European Union (EU)--easyJet is in the process of transferring 130 of its UK-registered Airbus A319s/A320s to its Vienna-based easyJet Europe unit.
By securing an EU air operator's certificate in Austria, easyJet Europe will safeguard the LCC's network should the UK and EU fail to agree on a new air transport accord before the Brexit deadline.
"We already have more than 90 aircraft registered in Austria and the former airberlin aircraft will be European registered," Haagensen said.
EasyJet has also registered aircraft in Switzerland. "In Geneva, we have 14 aircraft base and a 45% market share, while at Basel we operate 11 aircraft and have a 60% market share," Haagensen said.
EasyJet has 28 bases spread across 33 European countries. There are no plans to turn Vienna into a base, Haagensen said. "We are very much focused on Germany. When we open a new base, we begin with a minimum of three or four aircrafts. Our goal is to be the number one carrier in big cities or at least a strong number two."
EasyJet carries more than 82 million passengers annually, operating a fleet of nearly 300 aircraft across a network of over more than 980 routes.