EasyJet’s deal to sell combo plane-rail tickets signals new approach to fighting carbon emissions

Aug 3, 2021

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EasyJet has struck a deal with Germain train provider Deutsche Bahn to sell combination tickets that include air and rail travel. The new ticket packages went on sale in late July.

The arrangement is seen as a way for the budget carrier to address long-held concerns by climate change activists about the harmful impact air travel has on the environment. But travel industry observers also see these new combo tickets as a signal for a new way to do business.

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“It’s going to send shockwaves in the industry because rail is finally sexy,” said Ann Cederhall of LeapShift, a U.K.-based travel consult told Skift. Aside from providing extra revenue that the airline certainly needs as it emerges from the pandemic, combination tickets are a way to tap into the rail potential in many European hubs.

Trains have gained a much higher profile recently in Europe. Several countries including France and Germany are pushing rails as a travel alternative because trains emit far fewer carbon emissions than short-haul flights. The challenge in getting travellers to buy in is that despite producing six times more carbon emissions than trails, air travel is largely still cheaper than travelling by train.

EasyJet’s arrangement with Deutsche Bahn is also notable for how it’s selling the tickets.

The partnership involves technology known as application programming interfaces, or APIs. They are data feeds that rail and airline companies can plug into and share data, allowing much more flexibility than older systems. Industries like advertising and finance have used the technology for years. Airlines, however, have not fully adopted the software, which makes selling partners’ airfare, rail tickets and other services much easier.

One key reason this technology makes sense for a partnership like EasyJet and Deutsche Bahn is that it reduces costs. Because the partners are directly linked through APIs, there is no need for an outside vendor to be involved. It also makes it easier to test new routes and gauge customer demand in near real-time.

To be clear, there is still some confusion over this in the travel sector, even among airline executives. So we’re not close yet to seeing this type of technology becoming a standard across the industry.

But research indicates passengers are eager for more options to book self-connections and take greater control over their travel itineraries. EasyJet’s combination tickets are a step in that direction, as well as an attempt to address the environmental impact of carbon emissions from air travel. We may well see them strike more deals like this with other rail operators across Europe.

Featured image by Picture Alliance for Getty Images

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