McCall will be interviewed by WTM aviation expert John Strickland, director of JLS Consulting, about navigating the budget airline into the post-Brexit era on the first day of the event (November 6).
McCall took charge of the Luton-based airline in summer 2010, and steered it to European expansion and record levels of profitability. More recently, the airline’s costs and revenues have come under pressure after sterling’s fall following the EU referendum, while Brexit means McCall is seeking a second operating certificate outside the UK in order to remain an EU carrier.
Strickland said: “EasyJet now carries 70 million passengers annually and is attracting more business travellers, while winning plaudits for being family-friendly. It is a very competitive airline in a tough environment – competing against the likes of Ryanair and Wizz Air – but easyJet flies from numerous primary airports and is the biggest airline at Gatwick airport.”
McCall moved to the airline from her role as chief executive of Guardian Media Group, and her early years saw easyJet founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou disagree with plans to expand the fleet and criticise her pay packet.
“She has managed her relationship with Stelios diplomatically, and she has won much praise for her track record over the past six years,” said Strickland. “It will be fascinating to hear her at WTM London, as she will talk about how she improved the airline’s customer service and online experience while boosting its bottom line.
“We will also discuss future strategy, which includes the arrival of 30 larger Airbus A321neos – the first arriving in summer 2018 – to help it grow in slot-constrained airports.”
Strickland added that he hoped the interview’s timing would follow more clarity about Brexit, enabling a discussion about plans for expansion in markets outside the UK.
WTM London senior director, Simon Press said: “I am delighted Carolyn McCall is speaking on the first day of WTM London. She is, quite rightly, regarded as one of the country’s top business leaders.
“Running an airline is an unpredictable enterprise – who knows whether the laptop ban could affect airlines within Europe, or if the IT systems will crash, or when another Icelandic volcano might erupt?”
The session will take place at The Inspire Theatre from 3.30pm.