easyJet to work with travel trade on holiday business relaunch

easyJet will be relaunching its holiday business by the end of the year and the budget airline has plans to work with the travel trade in the coming months to ensure a win-win arrangement can be made.

Gary Wilson, the chief executive of easyJet's holiday business, told a briefing held on the sidelines of the ABTA Travel Convention in Tokyo this morning that the relaunch will involve more bespoke options for holidaymakers to choose from, a new website separate from the main flight-booking platform but with shared log-ins, relationships with more than 500 hotels across Europe, and a strong focus on value for money.

In the lead-up towards the end-of-the-year launch, Wilson said the airline will meet with independent travel agents and consortia to develop an arrangement where "both sides can make money".

He described the relaunch as a "huge opportunity" for the travel trade and emphasised the importance of working with agents, who he said are "trusted people who can advise on holidays".

"It is clear that if we want to establish our brand, we have to work with the communities of holidaymakers," Wilson said. "With the business model, we need to get a model that worked for the trade and works for us - we both need to make money. We want to go out with something that's right ... To sell holidays well, you need to do holidays well."

In regard to the collapse of Thomas Cook, Wilson said he was "shocked and saddened" by the company's demise, adding that while the collapse does provide an opportunity, the plans to relaunch the holiday business have been in the making for a long time. In the wake of the collapse, Wilson said easyJet had been focusing on getting stranded Thomas Cook customers home and said there are opportunities within the new holiday business for former Thomas Cook staff.

"It all shows how volatile the market is," Wilson commented. "And with the news this week on Brexit, the volatility continues."

He added that in these turbulent times, companies with a "robust business model and those who adapt and change to meet different customer needs" will be the ones to survive and grow. With the relaunched holiday business, Wilson said that around 25-30% of staff for the holiday business come from the travel industry with a significant number already working for the airline but "the vast majority" of new employees are from a technology background. He added that the website is undergoing "rigorous testing" and it will be rolled out in the UK market first as "proof of concept" before scaling into the European markets.

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