easyJet (U2, London Luton) has outlined a revised strategy for the Italian market which will see it placing more emphasis on the country's North. Speaking at a press conference last week, airline CEO Carolyn McCall said effective April 2016, the UK-based LCC would redeploy aircraft and crew at its current Rome Fiumicino base to supplement operations at its Milan Malpensa and Naples Int'l bases. It will also be opening a new base in Venice Marco Polo with four aircraft.
“Italy is a key strategic country for easyJet and our plans for 2016 announced today will expand our presence at Milan, Naples and Venice, where there are more opportunities for long term sustainable and profitable growth, while ensuring we continue to connect Rome Fiumicino with Europe in a way that best reflects passenger demand," she said.
In terms of operational upgrades, Malpensa, already easyJet’s second largest base with eighteen aircraft, will receive three more aircraft while the number of aircraft based at Naples - three - will grow to four.
According to McCall, easyJet plans not only to tap into Venice's healthy tourist industry, but also the surrounding Veneto region's business sector which accounts for 28% of easyJet’s 1.6 million passengers on flights to and from Venice.
In contrast, easyJet says its Rome Fiumicino base operations have been delivering lower returns largely because of high airport passenger charges, which have more than doubled since 2012, and which will be burdened by further above inflation increases in the coming years.
"In addition, Rome Fiumicino airport provides a poor passenger experience which has led to low levels of punctuality and customer satisfaction which the recent capacity increases have exacerbated," it said.
As such, though easyJet will continue to serve the Italian capital, it will cease basing crew and aircraft there from April 2016.
Affected personnel will be redeployed to the LCC's other bases which will also include a new one in Barcelona El Prat, Spain. Effective February 2016, easyJet said it would base three Airbus aircraft there to help reinforce its already strong position at the Catalan tourist mecca.
I think this could actually mean they are going to drop the Rome to Split and Dubrovnik routes, unfortunately.