UK low-fare carrier Flybe is expected to raise around £20 million if it proceeds with the sale of 25 pairs of slots at London Gatwick Airport as it continues to review its operational network across the UK. The airline had confirmed recently that it was evaluating its activities across the UK market and would axe around ten per cent of its 3,000-strong UK workforce to cut costs by at least £35 million.
The sale of the London Gatwick slots would appear a drastic measure but there is currently strong demand for key slots at the facility and leading operators easyJet and British Airways, as well as base carrier Norwegian are all likely to vie for some or all of Flybe’s slot pool. Since floating on the stockmarket four years ago, the regional carrier has been hit by rising fuel costs, falling passenger numbers and higher airport duty.
In a statement to the Stock Exchange Flybe said: “The Board announces that it is in discussions with a number of parties which may or may not lead to a transaction regarding the exchange for compensation payment of the Arrival and Departure Slots at Gatwick Airport. Discussions are on-going and there can be no certainty as to whether any transaction will be forthcoming.”
If it proceeds with the sale and departs from Gatwick it is likely to mark the closure of all of its existing domestic routes and its seasonal French service from the London airport. The carrier this year is serving eight different destinations from London Gatwick – Belfast City, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Newcastle and Newquay in the UK and Bergerac in France. It is the sole carrier on the Bergerac, Newcastle and Newquay routes but competes directly with other carriers to the other five destinations.
Flybe executives at Routes Europe in Budapest refused to be drawn on the matter and declined to comment when questioned by The HUB. In its statement the carrier says: “A further announcement will be made as soon as appropriate.”