EasyJet was formed in 1995 by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, a Greek-Cypriot entrepreneur. He leased two Boeing 737-200 aircraft and started operating on two routes from London Luton Airport, one to Glasgow International Airport and the other to Edinburgh Airport.
As Easyjet had not yet received its Air Operator’s Certificate, GB Airways operated the aircraft up until October 1997 until Easyjet received their own Air Operator’s Certificate.
The first aircraft to be wholly owned by Easyjet were delivered in April 1996 that enabled Easyjet to operate its very first international route from London Luton Airport to Amsterdam Schipol Airport. The airline expanded very quickly and was based on opening new bases for the aircraft to operate from in the United Kingdom and Europe and by acquiring other airlines along the way. These included acquiring a 40% stake in TEA Basle, the Swiss charter airline for 3 million Swiss Francs and was promptly renamed Easyjet Switzerland. Then in 2002, Easyjet purchased the rival airline ‘Go’ for £374 million that enabled the airline to establish new bases at London Stansted Airport, East Midlands Airport and Bristol Airport and overnight doubled the number of 737-300 aircraft in the fleet of EasyJet aircraft.
By 2007 Easyjet had acquired the full share capital of GB Airways, the airline that operated its first flights, in a deal totalling £103.5 million which was also used to establish new bases at Gatwick Airport and Manchester Airport.
By then Easyjet claimed to be the busiest flight operator in the whole of Europe operating on a model based heavily on the United States airline, Southwest Airlines, using cost-effective methods of not selling connecting flights or providing snacks on board their flights to keep costs down.
EasyJet flies mainly to primary airports in the cities it serves, compared to Ryanair who will utilize secondary airports in those cities in order to keep costs down and they also focus on providing convenient services to business passengers such as an option to transfer to a flight that is earlier with no extra charge.
Today, Easyjet has 19 European bases which its familiar orange livery aircraft flys from. These bases are mainly in the United Kingdom with its three largest bases being London Gatwick, Luton, and Stansted Airports, but there is also a very significant presence in Spain, Italy, Germany and France amongst others.
The company, although not owned by its founder any longer are still headquartered in London Luton Airport at Hangar 89 on the grounds of the airport.