Industry Updates

March 2013


EasyJet will operate flights between London and Moscow from 18ths of March 2013  after Britain's Civil Aviation Authority granted the low-cost airline a license for the route over Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic.

Britain's aviation regulator announced its decision Wednesday, choosing the Luton-based easyJet for its «potentialto deliver the greatest dynamic fare benefits for customers,» said Iain Osborne, the aviation authority's director of regulatory policy. EasyJet said it would offer a fare of no more than £125 ($200) for the first three years of flights between the British and Russian capitals, the Financial Times reported, citing easyJet's chief executive Carolyn McCall.

EasyJet's fares represent a significant discount to current market rates, as flights between London and Moscow frequently stretch to $450 or more.  The budget airline plans to start flying two services a day from London's Gatwick Airport in the spring, according to Reuters. McCall said that easyJet was considering launching an alternative route between Manchester and Moscow. In statements at a Civil Aviation Authority hearing three weeks ago, Virgin Atlantic argued that it could better compete with British Airways, the other Moscow-route license holder, and would offer a better service for business and first-class travelers.

EasyJet responded by saying it could cater to a wider range of customers and stressed that it had 10 million business passengers a year — double Virgin Atlantic's total number of passengers.  The opportunity to bid for the Moscow route opened up in March when International Airlines Group — the holding company that controls British Airways — received approval from European authorities to buy BMI, which had previously offered flights to Moscow. Under a bilateral agreement, only two British and two Russian carriers can hold licenses to fly between the two countries' capitals.