EasyJet narrows gap on Ryanair in passenger battle

EasyJet is catching up with rival budget airline Ryanair in terms of passenger numbers, with customer service improvements such as allocated seating helping to boost its customer tally. 

EasyJet’s passenger numbers were up 3.6 per cent in 2013.

EasyJet’s passenger numbers rose 3.6 per cent in 2013 to 61.3 million, up from 59.2 million in 2012. Ryanair, in comparison, said it carried 81.4 million customers last year, up 2.3 per cent year on year.

EasyJet has tried to set itself apart form rival low-cost airlines by focusing on improved customer service and perks such as flexible tickets. Its latest marketing campaign, “Generation EasyJet”, aims to celebrate the diversity of the airline’s customer base, which ranges from people holidaying or visiting friends to business fliers.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall has previously attributed part of the company’s recent success to its new system of seating allocation. Total revenue at the airline was up 10.5 per cent to £4.3bn in the full year to the end of September.

EasyJet also said its ‘load factor’ – a measure of how full its flights were – is ahead of Ryanair’s, at 89.3 per cent in 2013. Ryanair’s remained on 81 per cent.

Ryanair is now also attempting to improve its reputation for poor customer service by implementing a number of changes designed to woo disgruntled customers that have switched to rivals such as EasyJet. These include a 24-hour grace period to change minor booking errors and a relaxation of baggage rules, along with plans to switch to allocated seating.

Ryanair credits the changes with helping to boost passenger numbers in December, when the airline carried a record 5 million customers, up 4 per cent year on year. That was ahead of EasyJet, which saw passenger numbers rise 3.5 per cent to 4.3 million.

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