It’s something you never want to hear your pilot say: “I wasn’t sure if it would ever really take off,” recalled Fred Rivett, who piloted the first EasyJet flight from London to Glasgow in 1995.
Mr. Rivett spoke a few days ago at an event to celebrate the British budget airline’s 20th anniversary — and he wasn’t talking about the actual plane he flew that day, but about the airline itself.
Even a decade ago, budget carriers were thought of as exotic aviation newcomers. But today doubts about the survival of EasyJet — and discount aviation in general — have vanished. After Ryanair, EasyJet is the second-biggest low-cost carrier in Europe, and has just reported new record figures.
For German competitors, including traditional airlines such as Lufthansa and Air Berlin, EasyJet’s profits are anything but good news. The discount airlines have long been in competition with them, and not just for bargain-hunting customers.