November 10, 2005

EasyJet Turns 10

Easyjet founder celebrates airline's 10th anniversaryEasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou celebrated the tenth birthday of his no-frills airline today, crediting the low-cost service not just with revolutionising the travel industry but also with promoting peace and harmony across Europe.

The tycoon also highlighted his green credentials, giving his support to a possible emissions tax on planes.More than 100 million people have used the distinctive orange and white planes since Mr Haji-Ioannou pioneered the pared-down flights, tackling the higher prices of more established rivals and driving up demand for air travel.EasyJet launched from Luton Airport with a service to Glasgow on this day in 1995. Today it scrapped its no-frills policy, but just for the day, to serve free drinks on a repeat flight to celebrate its anniversary.

As well as getting drinks on the house, the passengers on the 11am flight were greeted at Luton by Mr Haji-Ioannou and were given chocolate bars to enjoy on the journey.Today he credited his idea with bringing European nations closer together - and even helping promote world peace."We have made a difference to people`s lives," the tycoon said today."One hundred million people have flown so far with us, so it is making a difference to a lot of people`s lives."We have made relationships possible ... love affairs, weddings."Europe is getting smaller, we are less likely to fight each other or go to war against each other."It is going to be a more peaceful place."

Together with rival carriers such as Ryanair, easyJet has revolutionised air travel for Britons, taking advantage of the open skies policy in Europe and breaking the stranglehold that high-price European state carriers had on the market.The company`s soaraway success has shocked its founder, who credits luck - and a rich father - for his success."It was difficult in those first years," he told the Press Association. "The only thing I was worrying about in 1995 was survival.""I don`t think I could have predicted this 10 years ago."EasyJet has gone from two routes to 224 routes. It has 110 aircraft and carries more than 30 million passengers a year.

EasyJet took delivery of its first wholly-owned aircraft in April 1996 and launched its website in 1997.In 2002 the airline acquired low-cost rival Go, which had originally been set up by British Airways. As rival operators such as Debonair and Duo air fell by the wayside, Mr Haji-Ioannou had succeeded in consistent growth, said Mr Calder, the travel editor of the Independent newspaper.

"This is a very easy game to lose lots of money in," he said."Stelios was in the right place at the right time."He was able to design an airline from a blank piece of paper without union demands, having to serve meals or use travel agents."The rest of the industry has taken a hell of a beating at the hands of easyJet because they weren`t able to take a look at what they were doing."EasyJet and Ryanair have revolutionised the industry. They said `all we do is fly people from A to B, let us make it simple and still make a profit`."People now don`t think twice about commuting from Luton to Spain."They have actually changed our mindset. It is liberating us and giving us the possibility

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