UK-based airline easyJet is planning to end its telephone booking service within the next month in an effort to drive down costs.
Europe`s second-biggest budget airline is hoping to force all its bookings on to the Internet within “the next few months”, according to one source. Tickets booked over the Internet are cheaper for the customer and the transaction is also much cheaper for the airline to process.
86.1% of the airlines bookings are handled over the Internet, up from 61.8% in January last year.
easyJet is moving towards Internet-only booking in the wake of a sharp rise in landing costs. The company has been forced to pay roughly £8 million ($11.72 million) more a year to use its Luton hub. Last week the company agreed a near tripling in its landing fees, which are believed to have risen from just £1.70 ($2.49) a passenger, to between £5 ($7.33) and £6 ($8.79). This interim contract lasts until August by which time both easyJet and Luton hope to have agreed a new long-term contract.
Although passenger numbers had increased by more than a third over the past year (535,929 passengers in January, compared with 401,748 in the same period last year), the airline said that, because it was operating more flights, its planes were not quite as full as last year. Only 75.3% of available seats were sold in January, down from 75.5% in the same period last year.
A spokesman blamed bad weather for the drop in load-factors: “From the end of December, we have been hit by difficult weather conditions which have forced us to cancel and curtail flights.” The company is currently considering legal action against Luton and one of its suppliers for failing to keep the airport open in the December bad weather.