EasyJet hails fleet flexibility as 'competitive advantage'

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EasyJet says it is deriving competitive advantage from the fleet flexibility afforded by its arrangements with Airbus, after converting six A320 options that were due to expire on 30 September.

In June, the UK low-cost carrier ordered 35 A320ceos and 100 A320neos, acquiring purchase rights on an additional 100 Neos. It has since converted its remaining six options on A320ceos. An EasyJet presentation delivered in June shows the date that these options would have expired, which coincided with the end of the carrier's latest financial year.

The conversions were recorded in Airbus figures released earlier this month.

Briefing analysts on 19 November, EasyJet finance chief Chris Kennedy indicated that the decision was prompted by the airline's acquisition of Flybe's slots at London Gatwick. He adds that the aircraft will be delivered in "spring 2015".

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall says the new framework arrangements agreed with Airbus in June secure the airline’s "ability to grow with flexibility to increase or decrease our fleet size depending on the macro environment". She adds: "It will be a very important part of delivering our cost-reduction plans in the future."

Kennedy says fleet flexibility is "a real competitive advantage" for EasyJet.

The deal with Airbus is structured such that the airline’s fleet at the end of its financial year 2022, ending 30 September of that year, could be anywhere between 171 aircraft and 298. In the base case, it will have 282 aircraft it its inventory.

A chart displayed during the investor call shows that the fleet is to comprise 226 aircraft at the end of the current financial year.

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Flightglobal's Ascend Online database lists EasyJet’s fleet as comprising 153 A319s and 64 A320s. It has 150 A320s on order, including the 100 Neos to which it made a firm commitment in June.