easyJet has today announced that the company headquarters for the enlarged airline (following the merger with Go) will be sited in Luton.
Having looked at a total of 62 sites in both Stansted and Luton, three options in the Luton area for the precise location are still being considered - both on and off-airport. Negotiations continue relating to all three and an announcement on the actual site will be made in September.
A significant contributory factor for the business choosing Luton is the `Assisted Area Status` that the town holds. This enables companies to apply for Regional Selective Assistance, a government grant available to companies investing over £500,000 in expansion, or relocation to, the town.
It is anticipated that the 40,000-60,000 square feet building will be home to some 250 easyJet management and administration staff from Spring 2003. It will also host a 150-seater telephone sales and customer service centre, with a 100-seater telephone sales centre remaining in Stansted.
The selected facility will have the flexibility to accommodate the airline`s planned growth for up to 20 years - through expansion to a maximum of 140,000 square feet. It will be bigger than both easyLand and Enterprise House (Go`s current headquarters at Stansted), with more car parking, a bigger café than L`Orangerie at easyLand, and depending on the final choice of site, gym and crèche facilities are being planned to be available at discounted rates through third parties.
It is anticipated that, as an interim solution, enough office space and facilities will be provided at easyLand to accommodate all head office staff, but it will be up to individual departments and teams to plan when and how they come together.
Ray Webster, easyJet Chief Executive, said:
“We made it a priority to announce the location of the HQ of the new easyJet as soon as possible to reduce the uncertainty that I know surrounds the decision. This is one of the most wide-reaching decisions that the company has made and I accept that it will affect a lot of people. However, I hope that the relocation package on offer to those staff affected will mean that everybody will be prepared to relocate to Luton and we will retain the best talent within the company.
“The office environment will adhere to the same principles that characterize the existing HQs of both easyJet and Go - open-plan, air-conditioned, no private offices, paperless, casual dress and informality amongst staff. Crucially, it will be a better working environment for our people.
“In an industry where airlines tend to build their headquarters as status symbols, the new easyLand will embody the airline`s core principles - low-cost and simplicity. We are passionate about culture and ensuring that our people operate in a highly productive environment. Historic stately homes (Donington Hall - British Midland) and architectural extravagances (Waterside - British Airways) isolate airlines from the real business that they are in and the customers that they serve. They may win design awards and puff the company`s ego, but they do nothing for the share price - and nothing for the poor customer who ultimately has to pick up the bill.
“Many people questioned whether we ever seriously considered moving from Luton. And the answer is yes. We looked long and hard in both Luton and Stansted but in the end the most financially attractive option prevailed. As a low-cost airline we have to do what is right for the long-term financial interests of the company. “