å...heralds second generation of low-cost airlines
A new low-cost airline flying from Luton is announced today, taking low-cost carriers into the `second generation` with a unique and simple pricing structure, and creating over 400 jobs in the next three years.
, the new airline will offer fixed fares according to destination and season, so that all travellers will pay the same amount for their seats on that flight. With Now, all charges except for government tax (£5) will be included in the price. This is in contrast to the pricing policy of current `no-frills` airlines, which sell the first few seats at a special promotional rate, often very low, but thereafter prices can increase substantially - and charges are often in addition to the quoted price. As an example, the cost of a ticket to Rome between March and May will be £55 plus £5 tax.
The first flight will depart from Luton in summer 2003, initially with two airplanes (148-seat Boeing 737 300s), flying to seven destinations in Europe - Manchester, Hamburg, Jersey, Rome, Lisbon, Ibiza and Tenerife (subject to final confirmation).
“We`re delighted to be flying from Luton” said Lars Welinder, interim chief executive of Now and one of a taskforce of four which has been the driving force behind the airline. “The airport`s values fit very well with ours, concentrating on making the travelling experience as pleasant as possible for customers. We`ve had tremendous support from the airport, from Luton Borough Council and from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), who have awarded us a Regional Selective Assistance grant of around £300,000 to assist with start-up costs and to help us in establishing our headquarters at Luton.”
Paul Kehoe, managing director London Luton Airport said today, “We here at Luton are proud to have been at the forefront of the budget flying revolution for the last decade.
“Now again London Luton Airport is taking the UK lead by becoming a partner in the launch of a new concept in flying - second generation low cost.
“We are impressed with Now`s commitment to providing a reliable and high quality service to the budget-conscious flyer. This closely mirrors London Luton`s own culture of commitment to excellence of customer service - and we are absolutely delighted that Now has recognised that synergy and chosen London Luton Airport as their UK base.”
Growth will continue progressively with a third airplane added after three months, allowing two further destinations: Valencia and Dusseldorf (subject to final confirmation). According to Now, a capacity of around 650,000 seats will be added in the first year from Luton, which still has ample capacity to serve the increasing number of business and leisure flyers in the Midlands and South East of England. Flights to destinations with a business profile will be scheduled twice a day every day, while night flights to Ibiza and Tenerife will run four times a week and twice a week respectively. All Now`s flights will land at well-known destination airports and the inaugural flight will be to Rome Fumichino.
“We`re focusing predominantly on high-density destinations with year-round opportunity and places with a large flow from London,” says Lars Welinder. “Our customers will range from regular travellers such as expatriates and people with holiday homes, to business people, people looking for city centre breaks, or young people travelling to destinations like Ibiza. We believe there are many people in these groups who`d prefer to have a better experience when they fly - higher quality, more secure and predictable travel arrangements, still at a reasonable price.”
Now`s aim is to create a pleasant travel experience from initial booking to return, and it will offer fully flexible tickets and allocated seating, with no restrictions on dates provided the ticket is used within six months of purchase. More than 80 per cent of tickets are likely to be sold from the airline`s website, www.fly-now.com, which will go live for customer bookings in April/May. Like many quality mainstream airlines, Now will have standby planes available at short notice to back up regular flights.
Now`s executive team will comprise senior, experienced airline industry figures.
The team currently includes Nick Grimwood, a key member of the taskforce, who is chief operating officer: his background includes many years of experience in flight operations. Albert Churchman who joins from Ernst & Young as chief financial officer. The chief executive officer and chief commercial officer will be announced imminently along with other key appointments. Non-executive directors will include Jack Wigglesworth, the former chairman of LIFFE, who is joining the board as non-executive chairman and a former director of a low-cost airline whose appointment will be announced shortly.