European regional carrier Flybe has confirmed it will maintain valuable air connectivity between Aberdeen and London City from this winter when it marks its return to the Docklands airport. The carrier will launch a twice daily operation on the route from October 27, 2014 following British Airways’ recent announcement that it would be withdrawing from the route at the end of the summer season.
Flybe is to offer five other routes from London City during the forthcoming winter schedule with new domestic links from London City to Belfast City, Edinburgh, Exeter and Inverness and an international connection to Dublin. These route will be served by five 78-seat Bombardier Dash 8-Q400s based at three of its regional bases, and are expected to fly up to 500,000 passengers annually.
It will offer a four times daily services from/to Edinburgh and Dublin, three times daily services from/to Belfast and Exeter and twice daily from/to Inverness. The carrier expects the new routes will offer enhanced links into the UK capital as well as appeal to a significant number of City and Canary Wharf-based passengers who need to access the UK regions and neighbouring European destinations.
The addition of Aberdeen to its network fits well into the carrier’s business strategy and maintains an air link that is considered crucial to the economy in the north of Scotland. “We are delighted to step in to continue offering a twice daily service between these two economic powerhouses,” said Saad Hammad, chief executive officer, Flybe.
“Our announcement is a clear indication of our appetite to maintain momentum with our plans for growth and we look forward to welcoming many new passengers on board in October,” he added.
The news follows hot on the heels of Flybe’s recent announcements of a brand new route between Aberdeen and East Midlands Airports, and the operation of a daily FlyShuttle service between Jersey and Aberdeen airports, with stop offs at Leeds Bradford and Southampton, all of which also start at the end of October.
Flybe now offers a total of eight routes from Aberdeen as part of its 2014-15 winter schedule with a choice of up to 276 flights a week and the airport’s management has been talking to Flybe for a number of months about the possibility of serving this route.
“Conversations started in earnest behind the scenes when we heard that the London City route could be lost. At that time, the team immediately began to have dialogue and whilst we were unable to discuss these in the public domain, I am pleased that they came to fruition with this announcement,” said Carol Benzie, managing director, Aberdeen Airport.
“We are delighted to see this route being back-filled so seamlessly by Flybe. The fact that they plan to launch their service to London City on the day after the previous carrier stops means that our customers will notice no drop in service and, for that, we are very grateful,” she added.
Aberdeen Airport is the main gateway to next year's Routes Europe forum which will be hosted by Aberdeen City and Shire at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre between April 12-14, 2015. Find out more about the event here.
In our analysis, below, we look at passenger demand on the Aberdeen – London route using UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data. The introduction of the Aberdeen - London City route by British Airways in September 2012 has helped boost passenger numbers, while the introduction of Little Red flights by Virgin Atlantic has helped boost the share of Heathrow traffic on the city pair.
The Aberdeen - London City offering provides an important O&D link between the two cities, although yields appear very similar to Aberdeen - London Heathrow route, which also generates notable transfer flows to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic's wider networks. In 2013 almost 75,000 passengers flew on the Aberdeen - London City route, according to the UK CAA.
In a further boost to its winter activities Flybe has announced the introduction of five new routes to its winter schedule that will further strengthen UK regional connectivity. These include two brand new routes: a five times weekly link between Birmingham and Berlin Tegel and the previously mentioned weekday domestic link between Aberdeen and East Midlands (both will be operated using 88-seat Embraer E175s). Additionally, the airline’s daily service between Exeter and Newcastle returns from October 26, 2014 having closed in March this year and two winter ski routes to Geneva will operate from Cardiff and Inverness from December 20, 2014.
“Our commitment to connectivity, both for business and leisure passengers across the UK regions and Europe, continues. The announcement of two more brand new routes and the return of three more clearly demonstrates our ambitions and hunger to deliver a network that meets the needs of our customers,” said Paul Simmons, chief commercial officer, Flybe.
The East Midlands – Aberdeen link will see Flybe operate alongside Eastern Airways, the latter offering multiple frequencies on weekdays using smaller BAe Jetstream 41 turboprops targeted at the business market. According to CAA data, 18,411 passengers flew on this route in 2013, down 7.0 per cent on the figure recorded in 2012.
The Birmingham – Berlin Tegel route will mark the continuation of flights from the Midlands’ airport to the German capital. Flybe will offer flights every day except Wednesdays and Saturdays offering a convenient schedule for passengers. The Berlin market was previously served by British Airways between March 2006 and March 2007 and more recently by Lufthansa and its low-cost operation Germanwings with the latter’s flights due to end next month.
“We are particularly excited to be offering Berlin as a brand new destination. This is a key destination in Germany for both business and leisure travellers being a key transport hub but also the commercial centre for a wide range of industrial sectors included amongst which are world-leading companies in high tech and engineering,” said Simmons.