easyJet (LON:EZJ) is working with a US engineering start-up to develop a fully electric commercial plane within a decade, Bloomberg has reported. The low-cost carrier is expected to benefit from the move with battery-powered planes offering a way to reduce fuel costs, typically among the biggest expense for airlines.
easyJet’s share price has slipped into the red in today’s session, having shed 0.74 percent to 1,192.00p as of 09:00 BST. The stock is underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.37 percent higher at 7,312.86 points. The group’s shares have added more than 18 percent to their value over the past year, as compared with an over seven-percent rise in the Footsie.
Bloomberg reported this morning that easyJet was working with US-based Wright Electric, which is setting its sights on designing an aircraft that can fly 335 miles. That would cover 20 percent of the passengers that the low-cost carrier flies today. With easyJet’s average flight time under two hours, the budget carrier would not be as constrained as long-distance airlines by the limited range of a battery-powered aircraft. Beyond saving on fuel costs, an electric plane also would cut emissions and noise.
“Just as we have seen with the automotive industry, the aviation industry will be looking to electric technology to reduce our impact on the environment,” easyJet’s outgoing chief executive Carolyn McCall said, as quoted by the newswire. “For the first time, we can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric plane will fly.”
easyJet meanwhile has emerged as one of the preferred bidders for parts of insolvent Air Berlin. The FTSE 100 group is reportedly interested in picking up about 27-30 planes, as well as taking the crews and slots associated with the aircraft.