UK low-fare carrier Flybe has confirmed the identity of the new routes it will launch this summer from Southend Airport after agreeing a franchising agreement with Stobart Air, the new corporate name for Irish regional carrier Aer Arann. The ten year agreement will see Stobart Air operate two ATR 72s for Flybe from June 2014 and will add to its existing franchise agreement in the UK with Loganair.
The partnership will initially cover six routes linking the Essex airport to Rennes (France), Groningen (the Netherlands), Münster Osnabrück (Germany), Cologne Bonn (Germany), Caen Normandie (France) and Antwerp (Belgium). Once fully operational the carrier will offer 102 weekly flights from Southend an expects to carry 200,000 passengers in year one of operations, rising to 700,000 in year three. Flybe will also commence a three times weekly service to Newquay in May 2014.
Services to Rennes, Groningen and Münster Osnabrück will commence on June 5, 2014 with services to Cologne Bonn, Caen Normandie and Antwerp starting on July 3, 2014. Frequencies across these markets will increase from September 1, 2014 when the links to Antwerp and Rennes will be flown double daily, enabling business and leisure passengers to fly in the morning and return home the same day. The contract between Stobart Air and flybe has been structured to accommodate additional aircraft and routes if required.
”Each of these new routes will resonate with both business and leisure passengers. Prices are competitive, schedules are convenient, and the airports are efficient. From London Southend’s perspective, we will expect to deliver an extra 200,000 passengers in year one, rising to 700,000 passengers within three years,” said Simon Fagan, chief commercial officer, Stobart Air
Analysis of data from OAG Schedules Analyser shows that Flybe was the largest UK domestic carrier in 2013 with a 30.8 per cent share of the total seat capacity, although it is likely to be overtaken by easyJet this year due to network changes that will take effect from the start of the summer 2014 timetable. However, in the international market, Flybe had just a 1.3 per cent share of capacity ranking it as the 18th largest operator from the country, although many of the routes it serves are providing key direct foreign connections from the UK’s regions.