Easyjet holidays claims to be the fastest growing UK tour operator after carrying just shy of two million passengers in its last financial year.
Speaking at the ABTA Travel Convention, CEO Garry Wilson said: “Now we’ve proven we’re a major player, I don’t think we want to stop until we’re the biggest”, but he later clarified to Travel Gossip that he was speaking ‘from a profitability point of view’.
EasyJet announced earlier this year that it plans to increase profits from its holiday arm to £250m. In its last financial year to the end of September, it made £120m, an average of around £60 per package holiday customer.
It has since increased its ATOL for 2024 to allow it to carry 700,000 more customers, making it the fifth largest operator behind Jet2holidays, TUI, We Love Holidays and Booking.com.
However, Garry said: “There is an obsession with ATOL numbers which is not particularly healthy. If your business is not efficient, you are not going to survive.
“There has been an obsession with ATOL numbers since the 90s and we know where that leads.”
Asked why he was confident easyJet holidays will be successful now when previous attempts by both easyJet and Ryanair to move into the package holiday market failed, Garry said easyJet previously didn’t have ‘skin in the game’.
“With Johan (Lundgren, CEO) coming on board, we have started to do this properly,” he said.
“In the past [the easyJet tour operation] was run as an ancillary, as a white-label, there was not really any skin in the game. It was never going to get to the scale that it needed to get to without bringing it in-house.
“And Ryanair made the mistake of trying to sell holidays for £89, but people don’t want cheap holidays, they want value for money.”
Garry said easyJet holidays also had an advantage over Ryanair as, unlike its rival, it flies from primary airports to primary airports.
But he admitted that price was key, which is the reason it won’t offer agents price parity.
“We always want to have the best prices in the market and we will only do that by controlling costs,” he said, adding that easyJet holidays has stripped out all the elements from a holiday that people don’t want to pay for, including ‘cocktails with the resort manager’ and ‘singalong tours’ to bring the price down.”
Travel Gossip has heard some complaints from travel agents that replacing resort reps with an app has sometimes caused an issue, with customers not able to contact anyone with problems while on holiday, but Garry insisted that easyJet holidays’ customer satisfaction scores are ‘very high’.
While any new routes are determined by the airline rather than easyJet holidays, Garry said ‘more regional spread would be good’, especially as its package holiday sales as a percentage of available capacity are stronger in the north than the south.