EasyJet has threatened to break away from Luton Airport if a proposed hike in landing fees goes ahead.
The move, which would see two of EasyJet’s planes relocated to either Stansted or Gatwick, could force a number of job cuts at the Bedfordshire facility.
Founded in 1995, EasyJet found fame (and some notoriety) as the subject of the ITV documentary, Airline. The firm has since gone on to shift some forty-five million tourists a year – second only to archenemy, Ryanair.
Until recently the airline was planning to expand its operations at Luton, opting to take advantage of low landing fees across the country. The latest dispute arose as the airport announced its fee tariff for 2010.
Despite enjoying a great deal of success at Luton, EasyJet has been at loggerheads with airport bosses for a number of months. The addition of a £1 levy for the use of airport drop-off areas was derided by EasyJet officials, who felt that passengers were being herded – unwillingly – onto an airport bus service.
The recent fee hike is the icing on the cake.
Determined to find a solution to its quandary, EasyJet remains optimistic, stating that “talks are continuing about airport costs and future growth strategies", and that this will allow them to increase investment at the airport and help to create more jobs.
The airline has warned that further price increases could put the airport in jeopardy. EasyJet’s biggest rival, Ryanair, has been quick to abandon airports with excessive landing fees.
If major airlines start to fly away, London Luton stands to lose a lot more than tourists and straw donkeys.