EasyJet Holidays’ partnership with Tui-owned Hotelopia went live in the UK this week – a year after being announced.
The launch marked easyJet Holidays’ move into tour operating, selling solely Atol-protected packages from the UK.
The companies had planned to launch their tie-up last May, when a three-year deal between easyJet Holidays and Lowcostbeds expired, but Lowcost continued to provide accommodation for easyJet’s UK customers until this month.
The joint operation with Hotelopia has been live in six markets on the Continent since September.
Mandy Round, general manager of easyJet Holidays, said: “We always planned the UK would follow the other markets. It has launched later than planned, but it’s a big project.
“We wanted the site to be right for customers when we launched. We’re a big brand and customers have expectations of us.”
Round added: “We’re already working on phase two – a new website that launches next year.”
Hotelopia contracts exclusively with sister brand Tui’s Hotelbeds, whose managing director Carlos Muñoz said: “We are part of Tui. Our background is tour operating. This is a market we can help easyJet grow in.”
“For the UK, there were different functionalities we needed in place. It was about the technology. The UK is easyJet’s most important market. This is a market we can help easyJet grow in.”
EasyJet Holidays launched four years ago. Announcing the Hotelopia deal last March, Round said her aim was to make the brand “a strong number-three” operator in Europe.
Muñoz declined to forecast volumes, but said: “EasyJet will be an important customer. I wouldn’t expect bookings to boom overnight. We expect a big booking period next January.”
The company is licensed to carry 110,000 Atol-protected passengers in the 12 months to September.