Germanwings disaster will not affect image of budget air travel: easyJet

Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:45am EDT
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By Sarah Young

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The disaster at budget airline Germanwings which killed 150 people will not harm the image of low-cost air travel in Europe, easyJet (EZJ.L: Quote) chief executive Carolyn McCall said on Tuesday.

Airlines across the world were left reeling after investigators said they believed the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight locked himself alone in the cockpit and deliberately steered it into a mountain, killing everyone on board.

Germanwings, founded in 2002 as a budget carrier, was acquired by full-service airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote) in 2009, and the parent company has expanded it into its main short-haul operator to battle competition from low-cost carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair (RYA.I: Quote).

McCall, in Amsterdam to open a new base for the airline, said the Germanwings crash was a matter for all airlines.

"This is not a budget airline issue. This is an airline issue. This is an industry thing," she told Reuters in an interview.

EasyJet moved swiftly to change its cockpit policy as details emerged of what had caused the crash, requiring two crew members to be on the flightdeck at all times.

Under European regulations, pilots were permitted to leave the cockpit temporarily at certain times and under certain circumstances, leaving the other pilot alone. Since the crash, the EU has advised airlines to have two crew members on the flightdeck at all times.

"I think that every airline will be looking at everything they do in light of what's happened," McCall said.   Continued...

An easyJet aircraft takes-off past Air France plane tails at the Charles-de-Gaulle airport, near Paris, September 16, 2014.   REUTERS/Christian Hartmann