EasyJet has unveiled a new booking platform, which allows customers to book long-haul flights with other airlines through its website.
The budget airline said on Wednesday (13 September) that it has reached an agreement to create a partnership with Norwegian and WestJet, which will offer flights to North and South America as well as the Far East.
According to the airline's estimates, each year approximately 200,000 passengers connect onto a long-distance flight from London Gatwick airport via an easyJet flight.
For example, passengers travelling from Inverness or Aberdeen to the US would have to book an easyJet flight to London and then a separate ticket with a different airline for their second leg of their journey. Once at Gatwick, they would also have to transfer their own luggage before checking it in again.
However, under the new platform, passengers will now be able to book the entire trip on easyJet's website and the booking will include the GatwickConnects service, which means all bags that have been checked in are automatically be transferred onto the second flight.
Should passengers miss their connecting flight, they will be placed on the first available plane free of charge. Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Toronto and Singapore are among the destinations available on easyJet's website and the airline plans to roll out the scheme to some of Europe's major airports, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Milan Malpensa.
"Around 70 million passengers flying through an easyJet airport each year are connecting on to other flights, mainly long-haul, and it is this market segment that Worldwide by easyJet will open up for us," said the airline chief executive Carolyn McCall.
The move is likely to be welcome by the industry, as it does not materially change the carrier's business model.
"This is primarily about customer convenience, making it easier to book multi-airline itineraries via the easyJet website but still using individual airline pricing rather than through fares," said aviation consultant John Strickland
"They will also not break the low-cost carrier model as, though connections will be made easier, there will be no obligation on the airline in the event these are missed."
Similarly, the FTSE 100-listed group said from next month it will begin selling standalone tickets on behalf of Scottish regional carrier Loganair, which would allow easyJet passengers to book onward flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Scotland's Highlands and Islands.
EasyJet added it would look to sign up more airlines to the scheme and that negotiations were "already far advanced" with a host of Middle Eastern and far eastern carriers.