easyJet criticise Aer Lingus for high prices, how low are theirs?
How do easyJet work out seat prices? And who spends their Summer holidays in Munich? In June?
You may have noticed in the press last week that easyJet attempted to karate-chop Aer Lingus in the windpipe with a new advertising campaign about Aer Lingus talking the talk when offering cheap flights, but not walking the walk. Or even flying it. This is what easyJet had to say:
easyJet, the largest UK airline, today launched a new advertising campaign to illustrate the wide gap in fares between easyJet and Aer Lingus at London Gatwick.
When Aer Lingus entered the London market a year ago they boasted about bringing a low-fares alternative to the London market. Today we are seeing their fares on comparable routes set at around £100 higher than easyJet – each way, and not the low-fares they had triumphantly announced.
easyJet have also had brassy new posters printed to sell their low prices "this Summer":
The small print at the bottom mentions the stated fares "were correct on 4th January and are based on price per seat averaged over June 2010." The press release for the ads didn't appear until the middle of last week, and we didn't have a snoop around prices until yesterday, so the advertising campaign was only four days old.
When we checked, the majority of days in June offered lower fares than those quoted. Hurrah! In fact, on all but one day the lowest fare between Gatwick and Munich was £22.99. Of course the small print states the figures are based on average price per seat - easyJet operates several flights a day on each route and many are more expensive, which accounts for the difference between lowest available fare quoted on the website and the average seat price quoted in the advertising.
And there are low fares all round for the examples quoted, except one. On seven days in June, a single flight from Gatwick to Faro could be bought for £28.99, lower than the £31.99 quoted in the advert. Across the whole of the month, however, the average lowest daily fare was closer to £39, with the lowest daily fare climbing as high as £62.99. Again, the price quoted in the ads refers to the average price per seat and there are five flights per day to Faro on some days, so we need to consider the pricing of seats on all the flights available. Of the 130 flights in June, seats on over 70 of them couldn't be purchased for less than £52.99, with prices on several flights climbing as high as £112.99.
So what's going on? Either easyJet is laying on jumbo jets to provide extra capacity for cheap seats in order to lower the average seat price - which they're not - or perhaps they're taking into account seats sold at a much lower price before 4th January to bring the average. If that's not the case either, then in the past week Londoners have gone horseshit crazy over the notion of sunshine and started booking up flights to Faro in their thousands, driving the price of the remaining seats well beyond the advertised price. If it is true, however, it's already rendered a four day old advertising promotion out of date.
Not that shouting about low prices will do easyJet any harm of course. But what about the overall advertising message easyJet is beaming into your brain? Aside from "Aer Lingus is expensive", you're exposed to a second message - "easyJet cheap summer flights"; there are only four lines of copy and summer is mentioned twice. Yet with the exception of Faro, none of the other examples provided are typical summer resorts. easyJet flies from Gatwick to the biggest holiday destinations in Europe - Gran Canaria, Majorca, Malaga and plenty more besides - but the examples are for the likes of Munich and Zurich. That, and the fact that easyJet is selling the notion of summer travel based on prices in June; while June is a Summer month, it's not the time most consumers consider travelling abroad for summer, especially families with children. The seed is planted though - "easyJet offers cheap summer flights."
We're actually big fans of easyJet - they prove it's not that difficult to be upfront about the costs of flights, instead of lumping taxes on top of advertised prices - but using flights to Munich in June to sell the notion of affordable summer flights is pushing it. And we'd be keen to know how they did their maths. We've asked the question, and we'll let you know the answer when we get one.