Taking questions at the Jet2holidays VIP conference (November 26-29), Jet2.com and Jet2holidays chief executive Heapy ruled out a move into Gatwick airport and said the airline’s greatest opportunity for growth lay with expanding its nine existing UK bases.
Heapy hailed, in particular, the launch of Jet2 newest bases Birmingham and Stansted. “They have been incredibly successful,” said Heapy.
“In our first year at Stansted, we had six aircraft. In summer 2019, we’ll have 12. In our first year at Birmingham, we had four aircraft. In summer 2019, we’ll have 10.
“Those two bases have been fantastic. A big reason has been the support of our independent travel agents. So to all the guys in the Midlands and south of England, thank-you very much for your support. You’ve helped our two new bases be enormous successes and we are grateful."
When asked if Jet2 had any plans to work at any other UK bases, such as Gatwick, Heapy simply said “no”. “Our strategy will be to grow our existing bases,” said Heapy.
He said for summer 2018, Jet2 grew capacity at all its bases and said it would do the same for summer 2019. It has added aircraft in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted while at Newcastle, Jet2 will upgrade its entire fleet to Boeing 737-800 aircraft resulting in further capacity growth.
In 2014, Jet2 had 55 aircraft. This had increased to 91 by summer 2018 and will increase again to “at least 103” for summer 2019.
By comparison, said Heapy, Tui has 67 and Thomas Cook 46. “Our fleet is 50% bigger than Tui’s and more than twice the size of Thomas Cook’s,” said Heapy.
“We will keep growing our fleet. We are investing in the future, we are buying more aircraft and we will keep expanding, doing more routes and more frequent flying.
“We are in the process of buying some more [aircraft] at the moment so it will be well over 100. This will enable us to put more routes on sale and do more regular flying.”
Jet2 will operate 125 flights a week to Majorca next summer, more than 90 to Alicante and 80 to Faro. Heapy said regular flying was one of Jet’s strengths, meaning it can offer customers holidays of any duration.
Next summer, Jet2 has increased capacity at 12 of its 14 Spanish destinations, doubled capacity to Turkey and extended its Greece and Cyprus programmes, said Heapy.
“We think there’s a lot more we can do,” he added. “We’re still continuing to grab market share, we still continue to attract new customers and we think there’s more we can do.
“If you are trying to invade foreign territory, you need to make sure your homeland is secure. We want to make sure our nine UK bases are secure before we do anything else.
“So there’s nothing in our plans short-to-medium terms to open any new bases but if we do, we will of course be very pleased to work with all independent agents in the area.”
Heapy also explained Jet2 was now achieving parity between flight-only customers and holidays customers. “When holidays started in its first year , it represented about 2% of capacity. Second year, it was 4%. It’s just grown from there,” said Heapy.
“There are two different markets... they attract different people. Because we’ve got a 50/50 split, that again makes the business very strong.”