Air Europa promotes ?E?s of connections for London?Madrid passengers
Air Europa has introduced the Embraer 195 to the twice-daily London Gatwick–Madrid service it began on 29 March. The airline is the first to operate the largest of the E-Jets with its maximum certified capacity of 122 seats, offering 14 business class and 108 economy class seats. The new fleet – the airline has orders for 11, with four delivered – is being put to use on strengthening the European network alongside 30 Boeing 737-800s.
For the new route, in addition to promoting Madrid as a destination, the airline’s UK general manager, Colin Stewart, is keen to push the route’s connectivity at its hub in the Spanish capital. “We are looking to build on our expertise in Latin America, where we have services to Buenos Aires, Caracas, Santa Domingo and Havana,” he explains. “And we also do services to Cancun and Punta Cana in conjunction with Travelplan, our sister company in the Globalia group.”
The London morning flight is timed to connect comfortably with all the long-haul flights except Buenos Aires, for which the afternoon flight has been timed. “The London market has been in need of an alternative to British Airways/Iberia for Latin America services,” Stewart observes.
Although in the UK the name Air Europa has often been associated with charter flights, the Spanish airline has considerable scheduled domestic and European networks (for example, 11 flights daily between Madrid and Paris CDG) and the new London service is being used to push recognition of this. “We have an excellent distribution network in Spain and a big marketing spend, so we are a very well-recognised brand,” Stewart remarks.
Assisting Stewart in his efforts is a policy of providing 5% commission to travel agents, not something commonly found among airlines nowadays. The travel trade and online bookers picking up on that has been helpful as the English version of the airline’s website has been going through an overhaul, so online booking is not yet at the levels reported by many low-fare carriers.
“We have used that situation to highlight the investment in our UK reservations team,” notes Stewart. “They are building personal relationships, especially with the travel trade, and reinforcing our desire to differentiate ourselves by delivering a personal service. For the passenger the personal touch is visible at the airport – “often the most stressful part of any journey” – with an airport supervisor to provide a welcoming face.
While not being a “hard core” low-fare carrier, Stewart points out that the airline is offering flights for £5 plus taxes as its introductory offer on LGW–MAD. “We’re very competitive on prices, but we have allocated seats and we offer a pay-on-board catering service on our short-haul routes.”
The mix of value-for-money and personal service, Stewart indicates, is what took Air Europa’s traffic to around 9 million passengers in 2008 – and what, he believes, will build it further.
Bernie Baldwin, Editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net