East Anglia: Airline Flybe posts its first annual profit for four years

Flybe's new purple livery on a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 aircraft.

Flybe's new purple livery on a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 aircraft. - Credit: Theo Moye

Regional airline Flybe today celebrated its first profit in four years after its turnaround strategy was boosted by a rise in passenger numbers.

Flybe, which serves 35 UK airports including Norwich and Southend, posted bottom-line profits of £8.1million for the year to March 31, compared with a loss of £41.1m a year earlier.

Chief executive Saad Hammad said the figures marked the “rebirth of Flybe” after a restructuring that has seen the loss of 1,100 jobs and a 1.4% reduction in capacity as it moves to shed loss-making routes.

It carried a record 7.7m passengers on its UK scheduled services during the year, a rise of 6.9% as it benefited from fare promotions and better routes.

Flybe also reported an improvement in passenger revenues per seat of 1.8% to £49.70, while its share of UK regional market grew to 55.1% from 52.4%.

The airline recently announced five new routes from London City airport and a complete relaunch of the Flybe brand although some further job losses are still likely after this summer as seasonal routes are discontinued and aircraft grounded.

However, the airline added: “We believe that we are now on the verge of emerging from this period of retrenchment, and looking forward to future considered and careful profitable growth.”

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The group has regional bases in Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Manchester and Southampton, having closed six others in the past year as part of its turnaround strategy.

It also has a “white label” business with Finland’s Finnair, where it flies planes under the Finnish airline’s livery and which posted a profit before tax of £6.3m, compared with £4.6m a year ago.

The group added that it was discussions with other major carriers about expanding its white label joint ventures.

Group revenue was 1% up on the previous year, at £620.5m, and total reveue under management, including the joint venture in Finalnd, was 11.1% higher, at £781.5m.

Flybe added today that it was a “source of amazement” that Air Passenger Duty (APD) continued to result in a typical domestic flight being charged five times the tax per mile of a long-haul one.

Chairman Simon Laffin said: “This is exacerbated when a return international flight suffers this charge once, but a domestic one is taxed twice. Yet in the last Budget, the Government actually reduced long-haul APD rates by £1 billion, while informing Flybe that it could not afford to reduce domestic rates.”