Flybe Fills Jet2 Void on Leeds – Belfast Route

UK regional carrier Flybe last week revealed plans to increase flights between Leeds Bradford and Belfast just hours after it was announced that low-fare carrier Jet2.com was ending its own flights between Yorkshire and the Northern Ireland city.  Flybe, which itself is currently completing a review of its route network and activity across the UK, will add a fourth weekday rotation on the domestic route to George Best Belfast City Airport to ensure travellers are not left “high and dry,” it says.

Jet2.com, which currently serves Belfast International Airport, announced on May 15, 2013 that it would discontinue its flights on the route from the end of June due to falling passenger demand.  "There is no longer the demand for the service which is why we've taken the difficult decision to stop the route," the airline said in a statement.

“It is an important business and leisure route for our passengers and we are delighted to demonstrate our ongoing commitment by stepping in to provide a fourth daily flight.”

Andrew Strong
Managing Director, Flybe UK

However, Flybe, which utilises smaller regional aircraft on its own flights between Leeds Bradford and Belfast, believes there is sufficient demand to continue services especially now it holds a monopoly position in this market.  The carrier has actually been providing flights between the two airports for over 21 years, having flown the route under its former identities, Jersey European and British European.

“It is an important business and leisure route for our passengers and we are delighted to demonstrate our ongoing commitment by stepping in to provide a fourth daily flight to the Northern Ireland airport that is conveniently located just 10 minutes from the heart of city,” said Andrew Strong, Managing Director, Flybe UK.  “We want to ensure travellers continue to have the best possible choice of affordable flights to and from both destinations.”

An analysis of UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) domestic traffic data for 2011 and 2012 clearly shows the reasoning behind Jet2.com’s decision to pull off the route.  Away from the fact that total passenger demand between Leeds Bradford and Belfast’s two airports fell 8.8 per cent between these two years, Jet2.com saw its own share of the traffic diminish from 50.1 per cent in 2011 to 34.0 per cent in 2012, with passenger numbers falling more than a third.

In the table below we look at traffic demand between Leeds Bradford and Belfast’s two airports over the past ten years.  The figures show that passenger numbers are at their lowest level since 2003, but interestingly passengers utilising Belfast City Airport to fly to and/or from Leeds Bradford exceeded the 100,000 milestone for the first time since 2004 with a second successive year of double-digit passenger growth.

Another interesting comparison is the average fares being secured by Jet2.com and Flybe and provides further evidence for Jet2.com’s departure from this market.  According to IATA’s AirportIS, the low-fare carrier was averaging one-way air fares of just $58 in 2012, down from $60 in 2011 and lees than half the average price being secured by its rival Flybe, which actually saw its own average ticket prices grow 15.0 per cent in 2012.

SCHEDULED AIR TRAFFIC BETWEEN LEEDS BRADFORD AND BELFAST (passengers; UK CAA)

Year

TOTAL DEMAND

Belfast International (BFS)

Belfast City (BHD)

Passengers

% Change

Passengers

% Change

Passengers

% Change

2012

151,643

(-8.1) %

51,535

(-37.7) %

100,108

21.6 %

2011

164,979

6.9 %

82,685

0.3 %

82,294

14.6 %

2010

154,260

(-7.2) %

82,469

(-6.1) %

71,791

(-8.4) %

2009

166,170

(-8.1) %

87,838

(-16.20 %

78,332

2.9 %

2008

180,866

(-4.7) %

104,765

(-2.3) %

76,101

(-7.9) %

2007

189,836

(-3.1) %

107,192

(-4.4) %

82,644

(-1.3) %

2006

195,875

1.8 %

112,134

16.7 %

83,741

(-13.2) %

2005

192,483

(-3.5) %

96,055

1.7 %

96,428

(-8.2) %

2004

199,475

44.1 %

94,412

662.3 %

105,063

(-16.6) %

2003

138,427

47.5 %

12,385

15,003.7 %

126,042

34.4 %


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