On November 10, 2015 UK carrier easyJet celebrated its 20th Birthday.
On a grey and miserable morning way back in 1995, flight EZY11 departed London Luton Airport bound for Glasgow, carrying 135 excited passengers. Sat in the cockpit was Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder and owner of what was then Britain’s newest and brashest airline.
Many in the aviation world thought that the bright orange up-start wouldn’t last for 20 months let alone 20 years. But here in 2015 the airline is now the UK’s largest carrier (in terms of passengers carried). It operates domestic and international scheduled services on over 700 routes in 32 countries with a fleet of over 250 Airbus aircraft, is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
Below is our easyJet gallery, 20 pictures to celebrate the airlines incredible 20 years. Simply click on one of the pictures to begin.
easyJet was founded in March 1995 by Greek Cypriot businessman, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. With help from a £5m loan from his shipping magnate father, his aim was to offer low-fares flights in Europe. It’s HQ, known as easyLand, was located at London Luton Aiport (LTN) and on October 23, 1995 the airline took its first ever booking.
The inaugural flight departed a grey and miserable LTN on the morning of November 10, 1995 bound for Glasgow, Scotland. Passengers had paid as little as £29 for their flight “making flying as affordable as a pair of jeans”. Little did anyone know that this would start a 20 year journey that would change the face of the aviation industry in the UK and Europe.
In the early years, Sir Stelios was instrumental to the carriers success. The flamboyant and often controversial owner was a hit with easyJet passengers, often giving out free drinks, snacks and flights. But for management of other airlines he was a nightmare. At the launch of the new British Airways low-cost airline Go, Stelios and his team turned up in orange boiler suits and handed out free easyJet flights to all of Go’s passengers, including the carriers CEO Barbara Cassani.
By April 1996 easyJet had taken delivery of its first wholly owned aircraft and expanded into Europe with flights to Amsterdam, Nice and Barcelona. The airline began a massive cabin crew recruitment drive and its staffs bright orange uniforms soon became a regular sight in airports across the continent.
In March 1998 easyJet purchased a 40% stake in Swiss charter airline TEA Basel for 3 million Swiss francs. The airline was later renamed easyJet Switzerland and commenced franchise services on April 1, 1999.
The first series of ‘Airline’ featuring easyJet aired on ITV in January 1999. The show was an instant hit following the working lives of some of the airlines staff such as Bob Brain, Leo Jones and Jane Bolton. The show regularly attracted over 10m viewers and made easyJet a household name in the UK.
easyJet is the biggest airline at London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW), operating over 100 routes after opening a base here in June 2001.
Over the years the airline has never shied away from controversy. In 2003 over 150 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about this iconic easyJet advert, making it the ad to gain the second highest number of complaints so far that year. The complaints said the newspaper advert was “offensive and demeaning to women” and trivialised the war in Iraq.
In 2002 easyJet purchased its London Stansted based rival Go for £374 million. The acquisition took easyJet ahead of its then closest rival Ryanair (in terms of fleet size), doubling the number of Boeing 737’s it operated overnight. The acquisition also gave the airline 3 ready made bases at Bristol, East Midlands and Stansted.
In October 2002 easyJet stunned the aviation world when they switched their allegiance from US plane maker Boeing and ordered 120 Airbus A319 aircraft (with options on a further 120), receiving its first aircraft in October 2003. By November 2011 all 737’s had left the fleet.
In October 2007 easyJet completed its acquisition of GB Airways. The airline, a British Airways franchise, operated from LGW and Manchester airports with a fleet of nine A320 and six A321 aircraft.
2010 was a big year for easyJet. It became the UK’s largest airline in terms of passengers flown. Carolyn McCall joined the company as CEO, taking the reigns from Andy Harrison. They were voted the Best Low-Fares Airline for the tenth consecutive year at the Business Traveller magazine awards. And the airline celebrated its 15th anniversary as it continued to ‘Turn Europe Orange’.
easyJet reached another impressive milestone in May 2011, after becoming the world’s youngest and quickest airline to reach a fleet of 200 Airbus aircraft. To mark the occasion, its 200th jet was painted in a special ‘inverted’ livery, affectionately dubbed ‘the flying carrot’ by the airlines staff. In June 2013 easyJet announced its intention to purchase a further 35 current generation A320’s and 100 of the new A320neo aircraft with options on a further 100. Deliveries of the new aircraft begin in 2017.
In March 2013 the airline celebrated its first flight between London Gatwick and Moscow – easyJet’s 100th route operating from LGW. The launch was a massive milestone for the airline, after winning the rights to fly between the two cities in October 2012, fighting off stiff competition from Virgin Atlantic. The airline also announced flights between Moscow and Manchester.
Over the years easyJet has been at the forefront of cutting edge technologies, innovations and reducing its impact on the environment. In November 2013 the airline successfully trialed the Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector or AVOID and in May 2014 it was announced the airline would use state-of-the-art drones to inspect its fleet.
Since its formation in 1995, easyJet have sported numerous special liveries on their aircraft including ‘Stop BA, Stop Go’, ‘Big @ LGW’ and various special colour schemes to highlight its Pan-European network. Pictured here in 2014 is A319 (G-EZBI) which had a special William Shakespeare livery applied to show the carriers support for April 23rd to become a national day to honour England’s most renowned playwright.
In February 2015, the airline revealed its new livery which was selected by 4,000 staff members and customers and aimed to give its fleet a “sleek, more modern look”. The change was the first redesign since 1998 when easyJet.com was placed on to the fuselage, replacing the booking telephone number.
easyJet by Jeff Banks.
Carolyn McCall joined the company in 2010. She has been instrumental in the carriers recent success, increasing share price, improving public perception, increasing fleet size and expanding the airline across Europe and in to new markets. In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. She is currently one of five female CEOs of a FTSE 100 Index company.
So a VERY happy 20th birthday to one of the worlds leading airlines. Here’s to the next 20 years.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out easyJet’s fabulous 2015 TV advert ‘How 20 Years Have Flown’
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