EasyJet lets passengers book partner flights

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UK budget airline EasyJet is to let customers use its website to book long-haul flights with other carriers.

It says it is the first global airline connections service by a European low fares carrier.

EasyJet is teaming up with Norwegian and WestJet to offer flights to North and South America, as well as Singapore, from Gatwick.

However, passengers will still need to transfer baggage between connecting flights.

Around 200,000 passengers a year connect from one EasyJet flight to another at Gatwick, but they have previously needed to book each flight separately.

The Worldwide scheme will see the airport's Gatwick Connects service, which has been running since 2015, integrated into EasyJet's website.

Customers will still need to transfer their own bags between all connecting flights.

That will be done via the Gatwick Connects desk in baggage reclaim, an EasyJet spokeswoman said.

The destinations which can now be booked on EasyJet's website include New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Toronto and Singapore.

Peter Duffy, EasyJet's chief commercial officer, told the BBC that the service "will shake up the market."

He said EasyJet is in talks with other airlines and airports to expand the service, and wants to offer flights to destinations including Milan, Geneva, Amsterdam and Paris.

He added that there will be no increase in luggage prices due to the new service.

Norwegian chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl said the firm expected a rapid increase in passengers due to the EasyJet partnership, which could lead to more orders for Boeing 787 aeroplanes.

The airline is also in talks with Ryanair about a flight connection partnership, Mr Ramdahl added.

'Heavy lifting'

The big airlines have long had agreements that connect their services, including Oneworld and Star Alliance.

Travel expert Simon Calder said the EasyJet initiative will help it compete with them.

"The move poses a threat to established network carriers such as British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa because it instantly multiplies the number of potential journeys that can be sold in a single transaction.

"But unlike the experience on those airlines, the passenger will literally have to do some heavy lifting - picking up baggage after the first flight and taking it to the desk."

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