British Airways is to sell its GB Airways franchise to Easyjet for just over £100 million.
The news means Easyjet will soon account for just under a quarter of all slots at London Gatwick (GB’s main hub). It also sees BA ending its final UK franchise agreement, with Scottish regional carrier Loganair also terminating its franchise (although a codeshare will remain in place until October 25, 2008) and Bmi’s takeover of Bmed becoming official at the weekend.
The purchase of GB Airways will see Easyjet operate 28 of its routes from Gatwick, as well as another six from Manchester. GB also owns four daily Heathrow slots, although these will not transfer to Easyjet.
Commenting on the news British Airways CEO Willie Walsh said: “UK franchises have outlived their purpose. Easyjet has made an offer to buy GB Airways and this has enabled us to end the franchise agreement early.”
It is thought that GB’s interest in moving towards a more low-cost model, with paid for catering, was partly behind BA’s decision to exit the franchise. GB currently operates routes out of Gatwick to destinations such as Gibraltar, Malta, Corfu and Nantes, as well as several routes already served by Easyjet from Gatwick including Faro, Innsbruck and Marrakech, suggesting that there will be some rescheduling of services once Easyjet formally takes over.
Report by Mark Caswell
Correction: As stated below by one of our readers, GB Airways has in fact been sold to Easyjet by The Bland Group, resulting in the termination of BA’s franchise with GB.