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Jet2.com AIRLINES T


he only thing one needs to know when considering life in the UK at the


moment is the shadow that Brexit throws over everything. This is certainly the case with the aviation market, although fears have lessened following an agreement that flights will still operate between the two parties even with a no-deal Brexit. When a number of journalists sit down at the end of January with Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and its sister tour operator Jet2holidays, in Seattle where he has just taken delivery of his 100th aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 Next Generation, the talk quickly turns to Brexit. The subject feels even more pressing as, with less than 100 days to go from the exit date, no agreement was in place, with both the UK and EU governments refusing to compromise. While Heapy admits that in a worst-case


scenario flights between the UK and most of Europe could be grounded, he thinks it’s unlikely to come to that and puts the chances of such an event happening as “very low-single-digit percentages”. He also believes his next worst-case scenario – flight numbers and destinations being capped at 2018 levels for UK airlines – is also extremely unlikely to happen. He adds: “We’ve spent a lot of time speaking to the government and various industry bodies and people in Europe, and we’re very hopeful we’ll get a resolution to this issue. With it being a negotiation, it will probably be taken up to the deadline where both parties try to extract the maximum they can from the deal, but it would be extremely damaging for Europe as well as the UK if we had a no-deal.” Heapy also argues that even if the UK aviation and tour operating markets face severe difficulties and contraction in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Jet2 businesses are significantly better placed to deal with the issues than some of their British rivals. He says: “One thing that we have is our financial strength and stability. We have a very healthy bank balance and, if it comes to


Steve Heapy


Facts & Stats


Aircraft (2019): More than 100


Destinations (2019): More than 70


Passengers (year ending March 31, 2018): 10.38 million


a tough time where business


perhaps is lower than normal, we have a lot of cash in the bank and we’ll be able to continue operations for significantly longer than a number of our competitors.” Furthermore, he adds his companies,


which are owned by Dart Group, are on schedule to meet their current growth predictions. His strategy also has the backing of his key shareholders, including the group’s executive chairman Philip Meeson, who has a 38% stake in the company.


Looking on the bright side However, Heapy remains optimistic a deal will be struck, adding: “I would hope common sense will prevail and trump politics and a sensible conclusion will be reached, but there’s a lot of positioning at the moment.”


He points out that it is in both parties’


interests to do so, especially in the travel market where there is a significant tourism deficit between the two parties, which he says means travellers from the UK spend £34 billion a year in the EU, while those coming in the other direction spend £4 billion. However, in the meantime he is keeping


his focus on the events he can control, rather than worrying about those he can’t. Heapy says: “If we reacted to every bit of news, I think you would go insane working through all the various outcomes of all this. There is an element of while we’re keeping our eyes and ears very closely to what’s happening, we have to get on with the day-to-day business and sell the holidays and sell the seats.


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routesonline.com ROUTES NEWS 2019 ISSUE 2 49 routesonline.com ROUTES NEWS 2016 ISSUE 6 49


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