Scotland’s local aviation giant, Loganair, recently voiced its unease over easyJet’s decision to venture into the already busy Southampton-Glasgow route. The latest move by the budget airline based in Luton has sparked a stir, threatening to heat up the competition in the UK domestic air travel market. Starting this November, Loganair’s monopoly on the Glasgow-Southampton route could be disrupted, as they brace for biweekly flights from easyJet.
The Balancing Act: Sustaining Service Long-Term
Recently, the news of easyJet’s plan to introduce biweekly flights connecting Glasgow Airport and Southampton Airport as part of its winter network expansion drive was reported. Loganair, currently the sole operator on this route with up to four flights daily, views this development with skepticism. Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair’s CEO, expressed his concerns on LinkedIn, citing easyJet’s history of briefly entering and then hastily withdrawing from several UK domestic routes in the past.
The crux of Hinkles’ concerns revolves around the balance of demand and service. On the days when both airlines operate on the Glasgow-Southampton route (Thursdays and Saturdays), he fears the demand may not suffice to keep both services afloat. Hinkles articulated his concern, stating: “We operate these routes year-round, but we need to turn a profit on busy summer Thursdays to ensure the service remains available on quieter wintry Tuesdays.”
The Battle of the Fares: More Flights or Cheaper Tickets?
The Glasgow-Southampton route sees Loganair holding the reins when it comes to flight frequency. However, easyJet aims to challenge this stronghold by offering lower fares to attract passengers to its less frequent flights. For instance, a round trip on this route in early November is priced at approximately £100 ($123.77) by Loganair, while easyJet offers a similar journey for a base fare of just £64 ($79.21).
Loganair offers added value with extras such as free checked baggage, providing more bang for the buck. However, for light travelers, easyJet’s bargain fares might be too tempting to resist despite its less frequent service. In response to Hinkles’ apprehensions, the Luton-based budget carrier stated: “We are committed to maintaining and developing routes that resonate with our customers. We focus on offering routes with the highest demand… We continually assess the potential for new routes where there is demand and we can offer competitive fares, which we believe benefits consumers by providing greater choice.”
Celebrating Success Amidst Challenges
Despite the looming competition on the Glasgow route, Loganair’s presence at Southampton Airport remains strong, boasting routes to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, and Stornoway. The airline recently celebrated a significant milestone by offering a free flight to its 350,000th customer at Southampton. Loganair remains hopeful that its customer base will continue to flourish, even as it grapples with low-cost competitors.