Acquisition of EasyJet plc. by British Airways plc.

Term Paper, 2004

26 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table Of Contents

List of Tables and Figures

1. Introduction

2. Major Strategy Change Proposal
2.1. Nature and Content
2.1.1. Reaffirmation of practical nature of proposal
2.1.2. Generic Basis of Competition
2.1.3. Strategic Direction and Risk/Reward
2.1.4. Implementation Method
2.2. Justification
2.2.1. Suitability
2.2.2. Acceptability
2.2.3. Feasibility

3. Implementation Plan

4. Strategic Management Process
4.1. Current Strategy Process
4.2. Reasoned Proposals for Change in Process



List of Tables/Figures

Table 1 Consolidated Cash Flow Statement Easy Jet

Table 2 Consolidated Cash Flow Statement British Airways

Table 3 Consolidated Profit and Loss Account Easy Jet

Table 4 Consolidated Profit and Loss Account British Airways

Table 5 Gantt Chart

Figure 1 Porter’s Generic Strategies

Figure 2 Ansoff’s Product-Market-Matrix

Figure 3 Expansion method matrix

Figure 4 Testing Suitability

Figure 5 Industry/product life cycle

Figure 6 The BCG Business Matrix

Figure 7 The Prescriptive Strategy Process

Figure 8 General Nature of Environment by Emery and Tryst

Figure 9 The Emergent Strategy Process

1. Introduction

The present assignment should formulate a proposal concerning a major strategy change of British Airways, which will be in our case the acquisition of the low-cost carrier Easy Jet. After the formulation of the major strategy change proposal, this work provides an implementation plan as well as a strategic management plan.

2. Major Strategy Change Proposal

2.1. Nature and Content

2.1.1. Reaffirmation of practical nature of proposal

In recent years, the number of low-cost carriers in Europe has increased noticeable. Especially the market for short haul flights within Europe has enlarged so that there are today approximately 57 providers competing for customers ( Predictions of experts suggest that in the near future there will be a collapse in the low-cost airline business and only the biggest and strongest will be able to survive. The proposal of the author is that British Airways (BA) takes over the London based low-cost airline Easy Jet (EJ) in order to participate in this fast growing market. In this way, BA will be able to reparate its mistake from August 2002 as Go Air was sold to Easy Jet. Even after the collapse of the low-cost line of business, BA’s low-priced subsidiary will be capable to increase its market share and to remain competitive.

2.1.2. Generic Basis of Competition

Michael Porter developed the ‘Generic Strategies’, which provide three main options of selecting a strategy fitting for each company. Figure 1 illustrates the different strategy alternatives, which are cost leadership, differentiation, cost focus and differentiation focus which can be recognized as one strategy. Regarding our case, the author decided to select the ‘Cost Focus’ strategy. For the case of BA and EJ, we have to say that the ‘Cost Leadership’ strategy would not be suitable. It is obvious that low-cost airlines offer low fares. Consequently, the costs have to be reduced in order to achieve profit. However, the reputation of BA can be described as excellent. This is the reason why the new BA low-cost airline will have to have higher standards than its competitors. Furthermore, Easy Jet will remain an own brand in order not to influence BA’s image negatively. Nevertheless, the new airline will be a low-cost airline with focus on costs even if it does not hold the cost leadership. The ‘Differentiation’ as well as the ‘Differentiation Focus’ strategy will not be taken into consideration due to the fact that low-cost airlines do not have a large possibility to differentiate itself from others by better in-flight service.

2.1.3. Strategic Direction and Risk/Reward

The strategic direction and risk/reward can be identified and explained with the aid of the well-known Product-Market-Matrix by Ansoff, which is from 1965 but still state-of-the-art. The aim of this matrix is to systemise and to organize different product and market strategies. These four strategies are identified as market penetration, product development, market development and diversification (Figure 2). For our case, we can state that BA enters the low-cost airline market, which is a new line of business. Furthermore, the product BA is operating with is still aircraft. Consequently, we can classify the strategic direction of BA in the Ansoff Matrix to the position bottom left, which is identified as market development.

As a result of the new market the airline enters and the associated problems that can occur the risk can be seen as medium to high. The expected rewards of these strategies are on the one hand the development of new markets, the attraction of new target groups and the opening of new channels of distribution. On the other hand, the possibility exists of exploiting synergy potential (Welge 1999 p. 436).

2.1.4. Implementation Method

For the implementation of the new strategy the author chose the Merger&Acquisition (M&A) method (Figure 3). For our case the author is proposing an acquisition of Easy Jet by British Airways in order to obtain full control of the company. Obviously, an acquisition which is not well executed might fail and cause damages at both companies concerned. Acquisition is a tried and tested method to get immediate access to new products or markets. Furthermore, acquisitions can be seen as a ‘low-cost’ alternative to organic growth if the share price of the target company is lower than the estimated company value. As a third advantage, we can state that the acquiring company takes over the target firm as well as its ‘human capital’- the company’s employees (Picot 2002 p. 309). Regarding our case, this clarifies that British Airways is capable of obtaining the market specific know how of Easy Jet’s staff which will be valuable in order to stay competitive in the low-cost carrier market. On the other side risks exist like the possible problem of integrating the new company. Nevertheless, the brand Easy Jet will be sustained and departments for purchasing, accounting and perhaps services will be combined to realize synergetic effects. Besides, a further disadvantage for acquisitions can be the long period after the acquisition until the shareholder value increases (CS II Lecture 19.04.2004).

2.2. Justification

2.2.1. Suitability

Due to the major strategy change with the entry in the low-cost segment of the airline market BA now focuses on different objectives as well as on its core business. The main objective of BA can be seen as increasing its profit after the sudden shocks of September 11th 2001. Obviously, by the acquisition of Easy Jet BA will be able to enlarge its profit in the middle and long term. Figure 4 identifies five different options testing the suitability of the strategy. We want to examine the life cycle analysis, the competitive positioning and the portfolio analysis.

Industry Life Cycle analysis

With regard to the industry life cycle (Figure 5), we can state that the low-cost carrier market is situated at the moment still in the growth stage but not far away from maturity. This becomes obvious when we keep in mind that there are approximately 57 low-cost carriers competing in the European market. Furthermore, the beginning of the growth stage of the low-cost airline market can be seen in 1997 after the complete deregulation of the European market.

Competitive Positioning

With assistance of the industry life cycle, we can state that the competitive positioning of Easy Jet can be perceived as viable due to the actual growth in this market. Nevertheless, the pricing of the fares has to be comparable to those of its competitors and it has to be clarified that Easy Jet is a low-cost carrier offering no extra in-flight service.

Portfolio Analysis

‘The Boston Consulting Group Business Matrix’ (Figure 6) provides the opportunity to identify the market share of the company and the growth rate of the market. Regarding Easy Jet’s low-cost market, we can say that the market is still growing. Moreover, with its fleet of 72 aircraft Easy Jet is serving 153 routes within Europe ( This massive penetration is associated with growing passenger numbers - up to 18.6% between September 2002 and September 2003 - and a relatively high market share ( Consequently, Easy Jet can be seen as a ‘Star’. Nonetheless, Easy Jet has to increase its market share to be converted into a ‘Cash Cow’ after the growth rate of the market declines.

2.2.2. Acceptability

As major criteria for acceptability, we can name the business risk and the attractiveness to stakeholders. The most essential examination of the business risk is the cash flow analysis (Lynch 2003 p. 514).

Cash Flow analysis

With regard to Table 1, we can state that EJ’s cash flow from operating activities decreased as well as the cash for the year. However, the main focus of attention should be the cash flow statement of the acquiring company. British Airways’ cash flow from operating activities recovered after the sudden shocks of September the 11th 2001 (Table 2). Furthermore, the cash for the year increased significantly from £ 4 million in 2002 to £ 158 million one year later.

Break Even analysis

The second examination of the business risk is the break-even analysis. In contrast to the cash flow analysis, the main focus is now directed to the acquisition’s target, Easy Jet. Low-cost airlines like Easy Jet as well as full service airlines on short haul flights achieve their break-even load factor at 70% ( In 2003, Easy Jet’s load factor was 84.1% whereas British Airways’ load factor was 69.9% in total (BA/EJ Annual Report).This illustrates that Easy Jet achieves profit, which is a good reason to continue our strategy. It is obvious that an acquisition has influence on and different attractiveness to stakeholders.


With regard to the shareholders, we have to mention that positive effects on shareholder value can only be perceived in the middle or long term. The influence on employees of BA will be less. However, as a result of the realization of synergies there will be layoffs in departments like purchasing and marketing at Easy Jet.

2.2.3. Feasibility

Financing Issues

Obviously, the most significant internal constraint is whether British Airways have the capital required (Lynch 2003 p. 512). With regard to the Annual Report 2003 of British Airways, we can say that BA is on the way up from the financial point of view. However, with a financing concept and the assistance of capital providers BA should be able to acquire and to integrate Easy Jet. The market capitalization of Easy Jet is £ 1,209.40 million ( BA is going to acquire 51% of Easy Jet’s shares amounting £ 616,794,000. Another important point Lynch mentions is the projection of cumulative profits. With regard to Table 3 and 4, we can say that the cumulative profit of BA and EJ for the year 2003 was approximately £ 104 million. There are four main constraints outside the company that influence the feasibility (Lynch 2003 p. 513).


Customers of BA will not be affected by its acquisition strategy concerning EJ due to the fact that Easy Jet will remain an independent brand.


Regarding the competitors, we can say that there will not be any reactions BA and EJ could not respond to.


Likewise, suppliers support does not have a great impact on this strategic decision.

Legal Issues

In case of abuse of market power, regulatory bodies like the European Commission or the UK Competition Commission will prevent the acquisition. However, this would not be necessary for our case due to the comparatively low market share each company has.


Furthermore, the success of the strategy is also dependent on managers and employees commitment (Lynch 2003 p. 513). The acquisition has no impact on the employees of British Airways. Simply the management of British Airways is going to experience additional work as a result of the integration. It is conceivable that managers of BA are promoted to higher positions at Easy Jet in order to guarantee long-term success.

3. Implementation Plan

(Figure 5Gantt Chart)

4. Strategic Management Process

4.1. Current Strategy Process

For the evaluation of the current strategy process of British Airways, the author selects the prescriptive corporate strategy approach. Figure 7 illustrates the six different steps of how the prescriptive corporate strategy process works. Beginning with the definition of British Airways’ current objective, we can say that the strategy formulation of the board of directors is ‘Provide superior service in every market in which we compete’( Furthermore, BA focuses on its human capital as Colin Marshall says ‘People are BA’s most important asset’ ( These two citations clarify the current strategy process of BA. Besides, we can add that BA is trying to increase its profit after the shocks of September 11th 2001. The analysis and projection of the environment surrounding the organisation is the second significant point. Within the assignment of the external and internal environment of British Airways last semester, we analysed the market structure as well as the competitive environment with Porter’s five forces. Consequently, we can say that the market structure is still an oligopoly. However, the internal rivalry especially for short haul flights within the European market has increased further due to low-cost airlines. This process will be aggravated in future. Figure 7 cites the reconsideration of the objective and if necessary a change of it as a third point. BA should focus on its core competencies in order to generate a better market position. Moreover, the current strategy process with outstanding in-flight service, excellent reputation and a large fleet of aircraft can be seen as suitable to the environment. Concerning the development of strategy options, we can state that cost reductions are a possible measure to increase profitability. One of BA’s targets remains to achieve annualised cost savings of £650 million by March 2004 (British Airways Annual Report p. 4). Superior service, reduction of costs and increasing profitability are three main objectives of BA. Therefore, it is the task of BA’s management to implement the strategy.

4.2. Reasoned Proposals for Change in Process

As we analysed above British Airways is following the prescriptive approach. The prescriptive approach determines aims and objectives and orients the complete corporate strategy towards the identified objectives. In contrast to this, the emergent approach takes ‘the people, politics and culture of organisation … into account’ (Lynch 2003 p.49). Furthermore, the emergent approach is more likely to seek a satisfactory solution rather than to fulfil the objectives of the organisation. This elucidates that the emergent approach is more flexible concerning the realisation of objectives. Permanent monitoring is required for the emergent approach and this can be seen as a disadvantage. Within the assignment of the last semester, we analysed the general nature of environment of Emery/Tryst and found out that the airline environment is complex and dynamic (Figure 8). As a result of this conclusion, we can state that the emergent strategy is more suitable for the strategic direction of British Airways. Besides, researchers found out that a decided strategy often does not fit with reality (Lynch 2003 p.49). Figure 9 illustrates that strategy can best be considered as a process in which the organisation’s strategy is derived as the result of trial and therefore emergent rather than planned (Lynch 2003 p.49). British Airways’ strategy has to be more flexible in order to cope with changing market conditions, developing economy or changing in groups or project teams. It is obvious that the emergent approach is difficult to define in advance and therefore difficult to realize in a clear and structured way. Due to the fact that BA is a big company and the emergent approach is rather suitable for smaller companies BA has to implement profit centre in order to ensure that costs and other factors can be assigned to the relevant department.



Byars, Lloyd L.; Strategic Management: Planning and Implementation Concepts and Cases, Harper & Row, 1984

Higgins, James M.; Strategy: Formulation, Implementation and Control, The Dryden Press, 1985

Lynch, Richard; Corporate Strategy, 3rd Edition, FT Prentice Hall, 2003

Welge, Martin K.; Strategisches Management, 2nd Edition, Gabler, 1999


Annual Reports:

British Airways Annual Report & Accounts 2002 / 2003

Easy Jet Annual Report and Accounts 2003


Excerpt out of 26 pages


Acquisition of EasyJet plc. by British Airways plc.
Anglia Ruskin University  (Ashcroft Business School)
Corporate Strategy & Operations II
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
500 KB
Acquisition, EasyJet, British, Airways, Corporate, Strategy, Operations
Quote paper
B.A. Sebastian Meyer (Author), 2004, Acquisition of EasyJet plc. by British Airways plc., Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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