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EasyJet is a British Low cost airline company based in Luton London. It was started by entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou in 1995. Starting with two leased Boeing B737 now it has become the second largest Low cost carrier (LCC) in Europe in terms of operations and largest LCC in terms of revenue (Peanut.aero 2011). It operates in 509 routes 125 airports in 29 European, West-Asian and North-African countries (Airdb, 2011). It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and a FTSE 250 constituent company (FTSE, 2011). At present it operates over 196 airplanes in 19 bases mostly Airbus A319 and recently it has added some Airbus A320 in its fleet (Easyjet Annual report 2010). In 2010 it carried 49 million passengers among which 53% was outside UK (Easyjet Annual report 2010). According to its annual report 2010 it has about 7300 employees. EasyJet's vision is to 'Turn Europe Orange'.
1.1: Products and Markets
EasyJet's target customers are business and the leisure consumers who are not willing to deal with other intermediaries and are eager to save time and money. Along with its Air carrier service through its airplanes it provides easy access to booking, scheduling of flights, accommodation and transportation services. In every case it pursues the strategy of cost leadership.
1.1.1: Booking Service
EasyJet provides 100% booking service real-time online through its website easyJet.com. (easyJet, 2008).
1.1.2: Cabin and onboard services
EasyJet provides a single class cabin service with a high density layout. No complementary meal is provided in its flight rather passengers can purchase foods and other gift items from easyShop (Easyshop 2008).
1.1.3: EasyJet Hotels and Holidays Services
EasyJet provides accommodation booking services along with its regular flight services. Through its easyJet Holidays service it provides dynamically packaged travel and holiday tours in more than 100 destinations. (easyJet Holidays, 2011).EasyJet also provides car rental, airport lounges and parking services to its passengers.
2.1: Competitor Analysis
Figure: Strategic Group Analysis (Source: British Airways Strategic Plan, 2009)
Mass Service Providers e.g.
BA, Virgin, Lufthansa, Air France KLM
Specialist e.g. PalmAir
Local e.g. BMI
Non-scheduled e.g. Thomson
No-frills:e.g. Ryan Air, Easy Jet, and Flybe
LOW BREADTH OF SERVICE HIGH
PRICE FOCUSED MIDDLE MARKET FOCUS ON SERVICE OFFERINGS
LOW PRICE HIGH
The above figure illustrates that easyJet's direct competitors are those who run alike services and lie within the same strategic group. The competition is intense within this group as they are looking for similar strategies.
easyJet falls in the low-cost/low-added-value group. From the above figure we see easyJet; Ryanair and Flybe are in the same strategic group. Competition among these three low cost carriers is very high. Though due to small size relative to rest two Flybe has less contribution in the competition. easyJet and Ryanair are two archrival competing for attracting customers to their company.
It competes with traditional airlines like Lufthansa, KLM-Air France, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic in short-haul market. It has taken a significant market share from traditional players. At the end of 2010 its market share became 7.6% (BBC 2010).
easyJet also faces competition from Charter flight operators who are considerably recognized and competitive in Europe.
2.2: PESTEL Analysis for easyJet
The following factors are likely to have an influence on the airline industry and should therefore be taken into account when formulating a Strategic Plan for easyJet.
2.2.1: Political Factors
Political Upheaval in the Middle East. It flies to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. If further political problem occurs in these countries its Middle East operation may be hampered.
Heavy regulation (ATWOnline, 2010). European Airlines are facing heavy regulations from governments in terms of taxes and safety measurements. easyJet has to follow regulations.
UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) will be increased to £16 from £12. This increasing duty will reduce UK passenger numbers by three million a year (Dailymail, 2011). In the first half of 2011 easyJet customers have already paid £153 million APD and this payment will rise in future and adversely affect the revenues of EasyJet (Half Year Result, 2011).
Single European Sky project has created opportunity for easyJet to expand its business heavily in every European country.
Increased security due to attempted terrorist Attack in Detroit (Transtec, 2010). Increasing security measures is crucial for easyJet to enhance customer confidence and competitive advantage.
2.2.2: Economic factors
Global GDP Growth: Global GDP growth will be 3.3% this year against 3.9% in 2010 (World Bank 2011). Global reduced GDP growth may affect the revenue of Premium airlines. But there is prospect of increasing revenue of LCCs.
Oil prices are expected to rise in 2011 (IATA, 2011). On March 2, 2011 crude oil price closed at $116 (Flightglobal 2011). This fuel price increase will increase the cost structure of easyJet and reduce profitability.
Financing and interest rate risk. As it is a capital intensive company so it finances a large portion of its capital through debt. Interest rate fluctuation may result in operating loss for the company.
Consumer confidence fell sharply in April (Guardian 2011). Decreasing consumer confidence across Europe can hurt the revenues of easyJet in 2011.
2.2.3: Social Factors
The Increasing aging population in UK. In UK 23 per cent of the population is projected to be aged 65By 2034 (Office for National Statistics 2010). Aging population is an opportunity for easyJet as aging population like to spend more leisure and in abroad.
Increasing concern for security. The public has become more concerned about air travel security. So the additional expense for creating safety impression in passenger's mind may drive up the cost of easyJet.
Increasing Obesity. According to Department of Health, that the Foresight report (2007) obesity is increasing in UK. This will be a threat for low cost airliners and easyJet because obese people need more seat-space and are heavier that will reduce the travelling of these people in low cost carriers as their seats are congested.
2.2.4: Technological factors
Widespread use of internet via computer or mobile phones has led airlines to provide services online. easyJet can further lower its cost structure by using internet.
As cited in free60s (2011), Pricegrabber.com has shown that 40% of the customers spend their time in price comparison online. So easyJet must be aware of charging price for its services.
IT security and fraud exposure. The Company operates as e-commerce business and earns most of its revenue through credit cards. So any disruption in the IT system can lead the company in a great difficulty.
2.2.5: Environmental Factors
Volcanic Eruption in Europe and Bad weather. Due to volcano eruption in Iceland easyJet has faced a loss of about £30 million (Annual Report 2010, p.9). Further eruption can create more loss for easyJet.
Noise pollution and Air pollution controls. The New legislation (e.g. Climate Change Bill) for environmental protection can lead easyJet to increase its operating expenses for reducing noise pollution and air pollution and its impact on the environment.
Consumer awareness about environmental effect. easyJet needs to be aware about offsetting its carbon footprint by decreasing pollution of ground operations and donating to climate vulnerable people. In future it can use solar driven aircraft if it becomes lower costly.
2.2.6: Legal Factors
EU consumer legislation (EU 261/2004. EU is looking for changing the legislation in 2012 to limit the liability of airlines for the events beyond their control has created optimism for easyJet to reduce its costs (Half Year Results 2011).
Unionization: As airline business is a labor intensive business most of the employees of this industry are unionized. easyJet will have to take any restructuring or expansion program by discussing with labor union for avoiding industrial movement.
2.3: Porter's Five Forces analysis
Porter's five forces model analysis is useful for analyzing the competitive structure of an Industry. Here I have analyzed five forces to assess the strategic options of easyJet.
2.3.1: Threat of new entrants: Low
There are significant barriers to entry in the airline industry. These barriers are
High capital requirement and large startup costs.
High competitive environment.
The regulatory requirements in the airline industry are very high.
There is an excess capacity in the industry. So if any company tries to enter in LCC industry, existing players may decrease prices thus offset the threat of new entry.
Significant Barriers to exit exists here which discourages new entrants.
The recent failure of Zoom, XL Airways, Silverjet, Eos, MAXjet, last week and Sterling may deter the new entry in the aviation industry (thisismoney, 2008).
Existing Premium Airlines may try to enter in the LCC industry but Low cost airlines have a very strong brand association and low cost structure that deters premium airlines to enter in this industry.
2.3.2: Bargaining Power of Suppliers: High
Reasons behind this are given below-
There are only two commercial aircraft manufacturers. So the bargaining power of aircraft suppliers is high.
The bargaining power of fuel suppliers is high. easyJet has no impact on the price of the fuel supplied to them.
Landing slots are distributed in the Priority basis for existing operators.
Employees of easyJet bargain collectively with the company that indicates high bargaining power of employees.
2.3.3: Bargaining power of buyers: Moderate
The reasons are given below-
Low concentration of buyers. Buyers are widely distributed in different countries that indicate buyers have little bargaining power.
But customer switching cost is very low in this industry that leads to higher bargaining power.
easyJet and other LCCs charges very low fare. As a result customers have few options to switch from it.
The affordable packaged services of easyJet attracts more customers, thus indicates low bargaining power.
Increasing use of internet has augmented customer awareness and interaction so they can compare prices among companies and switch one to another.
2.3.4: Threat of substitutes: Low
The reasons are-
In the short distance the substitute for air service are rail and ferry service and bus services. Rail service e.g. Eurostar offers low fares than airlines. But as a budget airline, easyJet is less vulnerable to rail substitutes. The ferry service is more time consuming so it also poses no threats to easyJet.
In long distance there are no substitutes of airlines.
2.3.5: Rivalry among existing companies: High
This high rivalry results from the following reasons.
EasyJet has become the second largest budget carrier in the Europe after Ryan Air. The rivalry among two companies is very high. Another budget carrier is Flybe. All budget carriers try to outperform one another by offering lower prices and better customer services.
Every company tries to offer new travel packages and provide additional onboard ancillary services.
Besides rivalry among budget carriers they need to compete with premium long haul airlines like British Airways, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.
The Consolidation of competitors has led to increasing rivalry.
The deregulation of European aviation market under European Single Sky programme may lead to further competition in the industry.
Expense % Revenue
Level of Working Capital
% of assets
Revenue per Passenger
Total Cost per Passenger
Revenue per K
Cost per K
% of Sales
Revenue analysis (table above) of the companies provided that revenue of Easy Jet has a positive trend over the years but others are facing a decrease in revenue following an increase. Easy jet continues its growth of 12.86% from 2008 to 2009 and 11.49% from 2009 to 2010. Whereas Ryan's revenue growth is much lower 0.48% from 2008 to 2009 and -3.36% from 2009 to 2010 and Flybe was also experienced growth of 6.82% in 2009 and -0.33% in 2010. Both the competitors of Easy jet faced with a negative growth in 2010 but Easy jet itself sustained its growth. This means Easy Jet is able to continue its growth in the market.
All the companies faced same trend in the percentage of expense of sale with an increase in 2009. When we compare the net profit trend of the companies we see that all the company generate lower income than other two years in 2009 though they have increased sale in 2009. This is due to the recession in 2009 which increase the cost, so companies earn a lower profit though they are able to generate revenue higher than any other years.
Easy Jet had a higher expense ratio to sales in 2008 (89.48%) but it was able to suppress Ryan Air in 2009 91.56% to Ryan's 96.85% and in 2010 it also suppress Flybe with 87.85% compare to Flybe's 88.90%.
Now let's take a look at the profitability of the companies, profit margin of Easy jet is increasing while other two is facing a decreasing rate, but Easy jet has a much lower profit margin than Ryan's. Among the companies Flybe has unusual high Return on Equity (ROE) 289.36% in 2008 and 25.15% and 35.45% in the following years. Whereas the other two has much lower ROE and Easy jet has lower ROE (8.6% in 2010) than Ryan's (10.37%) though the ROE has a positive trend (increased from 6.80% to 8.6% from 2008 to 2010).
In case of Return on Assets (ROA), in 2008 Easy jet had lowest ROA (2.68% compared to 5.91% of Ryan's and 10.99% of Flybe) and gradually it outperformed Flybe in 2009 with ROA of 1.94% compared to 1.26% and in 2010 it able to get closer to ROA of Ryan's (3.41%) though it is yet lower. Here one thing is worthwhile to mention that all the other companies ROA is decreasing but Easy jets ROA is increasing. Easy jet is also failed to generate much return for its investment to be equal with its competitors return. In 2010 Easy jet had ROIC of 4.13% while Ryan's ROIC was 5.40% and Flybe's 4.63%.
In case of operating profit in 2008 Easy jet had the lowest operating profit to sales ratio of 3.85% compares to Ryan's 19.79% and Flybe's 5.72%. In the following year Easy jet's operating profit to sales ratio was 2.25% lower than its previous year which is caused due to increase in fuel price and as well as effect of recession but in that year it was able to get higher ratio than Flybe's. In 2010 operating profit to sales ration of Easy jet increased to 5.84% but is much lower than Ryan's 13.46%. In case of EBT Easy jet has a higher EBT to sales ratio compares to its operating profit to sales ratio, which is also does not confront with the industry behavior. But again it has lower EBT to sale ratio both in 2008 and in 2010 compares to Ryan's.
3.4: Cash Flow
In generating cash flow from operation all the companies achieved a positive trend with a sharp fall in 2009 due to recession. The cash flow generation capacity of Flybe is much lower than other two though it was able to increase its cash flow at much higher rate than its previous year, so exclude it from this analysis. The operating cash flow of Easy jet compares to Ryan's is not so good. In 2010 Easy jet's OCF was 363 million compares to Ryan's 735 million which is almost double than EasyJet's.
3.5: Outstanding Debt
Both Easy jet and Ryan is increasing their debt throughout the years while Flybe is decreasing their outstanding debt. This is because as profit of Flybe is decreased drastically in 2009 and 2010 so they have no intention to increase debt. Ryan has high outstanding debt compares to Easy jet as it was the market leader and had many opportunities to capture but now Easy jet is coming in front.
3.6: Net Working Capital
In case of managing net working capital Easy jet is gaining efficiency and able to decrease its net working capital requirement from 16.33% of total assets to 11.25% from 2008 to 2010 whereas Ryan's net working capital requirement is decreasing year by year. Flybe is most efficient in managing net working capital and its net working capital is very small percentage of total assets though it is increasing.
3.7: Revenue per Passenger
Flybe is the most successful in generating revenue from each passenger and their revenue per passenger (RPP) is also increasing, 76.55 pound in 2008 to 79.24 pound in 2010. Easy jet is also able to increase its revenue per passenger year to year but it has much lower RPP than Flybe, 54.07 pound in 2008 and 60.92 pound in 2010. The most unsuccessful company in this case is Ryan and their RPP is decreasing year by year and they have lowest RPP among the companies, 51.02 pound in 2008 and 37.92 pound in 2010.
3.8: Cost per Passenger
In case of total cost per passenger (CPP) Ryan is most successful as it is able to reduce its CPP from 40.93 pound in 2008 to 34.49 pound in 2010. On the other hand Easy jet and Flybe's CPP increased in 2009 48.38 pound and 64.28 pound to 54.02 pound and 71.36 pound respectively. They also able to reduce their cost in 2010 but the reduction is not much high. 53.52 pound in 2010 for Easy jet and 70.44 pound for Flybe.
Total passengers for all the companies are increasing year to year.
3.9: Revenue per Kilometre
In generating revenue per kilometre (RPK) Easy jet enjoys a leading position among the companies and its RPK is enjoying a steady increasing trend over the year 4.24 pence to 4.72 pence. The RPK of Ryan air is declining and they have much lower RPK than Easy jet 2.25 pence in 2010 compares to Easy jets 4.72 pence.
3.10: Cost per Kilometre
Easy jets cost per kilometre (CPK) is much higher than Ryan and its CPK is increasing year by year 4.02 pence to 4.43 pence. On the other hand Ryan's CPK is decreasing over the year 3.03 pence to 2.46 pence. Easy jet CPK in 2010 4.43 pence is much higher than Ryan's 2.46.
Revenue per Passenger
Total Cost per Passenger
Long Term Debt
From the recommendation we are now trying to simulate the situation, if Easy jet goes for reducing its cost base and also try to reduce its price what will be the situation. Here we could see that if it reduces its cost per passenger in 2011 as it is in 2008, 48 pound per passenger and revenue slightly higher than 2008, 55 pound per passenger we could expect passenger growth of 11% (both due to reduce cost and expansion in European countries) the company will than able to generate ROA of 8.9% with ROE of 22.6% and ROIC of 11.79% which is much higher than its previous return.
In 2012 if the company further reduces the cost at 44 pound per passenger by achieving economics of scale as its number of passengers increases it can also able to reduce its price at revenue per passenger 50.6 pound per passenger and the scenario will be ROA of 8.4% with ROE of 20.40% and ROIC of 10.84%. Thus we can conclude that Easy jet can go for cost and Price reduction to achieve more sales to get higher return.
Limitations of Models
5.1: Porter's five forces model
This model presumes a classic perfect market. But no market is perfect.
For complex industries with multiple segments and interrelations it is not applicable.
It doesn't consider synergies and collaboration and strategic alliances among companies.
The possibility of creating a new market is not considered here (12manage 2011).
It is not able to consider the rapidly changing trends in the market. So PESTEL analysis is more suitable than porter's.
5.2: PESTEL Analysis
PESTEL analysis deals with analyzing external factors. Sometimes it becomes hard to forecast future trends with a tolerable degree of accuracy. So the firm may use scenario analysis to reduce forecasting risk (Williamson, 2003).
5.3: Limitations of Using Trend, Ratio, KPIs and Financial Modeling
Ratios are not definitive measure they cannot define the performance of a company. Ratios are based on accounting data which become outdated when the ratio is used in analysis. The first limitation of using financial model is that it use ratio to model financial performance. It is almost impossible to incorporate the entire relevant variable in a financial model and it is easy miss out an important variable. KPIs cannot be used to identify the best or better company among the others because different companies make them efficient in different performance.
From our above discussion the company pursues cost leadership strategy successfully. From PESTEL analysis we have found the most concerning factors for easyJet are-increasing Air Passenger Duty (APD), oil price hike, falling consumer confidence, increasing obesity, natural disasters, IT security concern and industrial movement of workers. And the opportunities created by external factors are European Single Sky project, increasing aging population and loosening EU consumer legislation. From the five forces analysis and strategic group analysis we see competition in the LCC industry is very high due to the rivalry among existing competitors and the high bargaining power of suppliers also creates problems for easyJet. The low switching cost of buyers is a concern for easyJet. Easy jets financial performance during the last three years was quiet good compared to its competitors I have chosen. It is experiencing a steady growth in generating revenue and gaining market share through increasing passengers. The expense directly related to revenue is ok compared to other competitors but its operating expense is much higher than other companies thus it cannot generates as much as operating profit as its competitors. It's RPK and RPP is higher with consistency with high CPK and CPP thus it means the company is expensing much and charging passenger higher than Ryan. This may be put a hinder in increasing its business from Ryan's share. The ROE, ROA and ROIC is also lower than its competitors which means that the company has unused capital and assets and this is costing it much. Another way this surplus assets and capital indicates that it has the capacity to get more market share without changing its capital structure much. The company is far beyond from the optimum level of using it resources.
For decreasing APD easyJet along with other airlines should negotiate with government.
It can arrange some seats for obese people and take an obesity charge.
IT security should be increased by allowing only authorized persons to its IT facilities.
For helping stranded customers in times of natural disasters and for reducing IT risk it should prepare a strong Business Continuity Plan and Disaster Plan.
Additional resources should be arranged to absorb the opportunity of penetrating in all European countries.
It should continuously monitor competitors for Rapid response in anticipation of and to changes.
Easy jet's financial performance is getting better but the company should give attention to its operating cost structure to reduce cost as Ryan and get market share or on the other hand it can go for some sort of superior service with some premium charge as Flybe to gain market share. As RyanAir is the largest competitor of easyJet, so easyJet should reduce its operating costs to gain competitive advantage.
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