Frontline agents in easyJet strongholds have urged the no-frills carrier to adopt a trade-friendly stance following its tie-up with Lowcost Travel Group.
The airline this week confirmed it would be offering an easyJet Holidays brand using Lowcost’s accommodation stock, and agents said it could be a strong proposition if sold through the trade.
The budget airline will launch the operator early next year with Lowcost supplying all accommodation and transfers as well as specialist marketing, call centre and customer services, for the next three years.
Jimmy Martin, the leisure convenor for the SPAA, said easyJet is already a popular brand in Scotland and added agents would sell it provided they were given access to fully bonded packages with price parity for direct sales.
“EasyJet have made a very good impact on a lot of people up here, we understand how they work and operate,” he said.
“We understand as retailers the market is getting harder and harder, easyJet will need all the sales channels available and all we are asking for is a level playing field.”
John Sullivan, the head of commercial for Advantage Travel Centres, agreed that easyJet would need to support agents, adding: “It is a positive thing, although it would depend on what the proposition looked like.”
Pat Waterton, director of Hertfordshire-based Langley Travel, said selling easyJet Holidays would be a natural progression for the agency.
“We are close to Luton, so we sell a lot of easyJet flights already. EasyJet has traditionally been fairly trade-friendly, so if they wanted to work with agents with a holidays brand then we would certainly welcome that. If it was the other lot (Ryanair), then we wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole.”
She added: “We would want to be sure our customers were protected, but if it was worth our while to sell it then we would welcome it.”
Conor Magee, owner of Pinnacle Worldwide in Belfast, said: “EasyJet is the biggest carrier from Belfast and if the commercial terms were attractive then it would definitely add an alternative product for us.
“If it were Ryanair then it would be very different story, but if easyJet was willing to talk about how we could sell this product, then it would certainly be of interest.”
Future Travel agent and Travel Weekly columnist Emma Sanger said easyJet flights had traditionally been a tough sell as consumers could easily compare prices online.
But she added: “If they have a holidays brand which is viable and lucrative for agents to sell, then I would definitely use it.”
However, Bob Grinsell, an Elite director, was more cautious over working with the low cost airline.
He said: “They will take market share, I’m convinced of that. It won’t affect our members because of their independent nature and because of the relationship with their customers they’ll be able to switch sell just as they have with tour operators in the past.”