Flybe Returns With 23 Routes
The revived UK regional carrier will face competition on about two-thirds of the routes being launched.
The Flybe brand will return to the skies next month, serving 16 airports in the UK, France and the Netherlands during the upcoming summer 2022 season.
The reborn airline intends to connect 23 city pairs across its network using De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400s, operating up to 530 flights per week. The relaunch comes two years after the previous incarnation of Flybe collapse into administration, resulting in more than 2,000 job losses.
The UK carrier’s maiden route will begin on April 13 linking its Belfast City (BHD) base and its Birmingham (BHX) headquarters. Flights will initially be served up to 2X-daily, increasing to 4X-daily later in the year.
Five more destinations will be added during April—Amsterdam (AMS), East Midlands (EMA), Glasgow (GLA), Leeds Bradford (LBA) and London Heathrow (LHR)—including the airline’s entry to the LBA-LHR market which has been left unserved since British Airways suspended flights in March 2020.
Flybe’s network will increase further in May and June with the addition of three routes, before ramping up in July and August as 13 more sectors are launched. International destinations will include Avignon (AVN), Brest (BES) and Toulon (TLN).
“We think our new flights will benefit everyone who wants low fares and more flights to go on holiday and visit loved ones,” Flybe CEO Dave Pflieger said. “Our new network will also ensure better regional connectivity inside the UK and between various UK and EU regions.”
Birmingham Airport CEO Nick Barton welcomed Flybe’s return, saying the routes should prove popular with business and leisure passengers.
He added: “Flybe is showing its commitment to the Midlands and will base three Q400 aircraft at its headquarters here at Birmingham Airport and we hope to see this increase to five based Q400s from August.”
After the old Flybe failed in March 2020, its brand and assets were later sold to Thyme Opco, a business linked to hedge fund Cyrus Capital. New York-based Cyrus Capital was previously part of a consortium that owned the airline alongside Virgin Atlantic and the now-defunct Stobart Air.
According to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, Flybe was the largest operator of domestic flights in the UK during 2019, with a 38.2% share of departures. This put the airline ahead of easyJet on 19.8% and British Airways on 16.9%.
In addition, Flybe was the second-largest provider of domestic capacity. There were 28.79 million domestic departure seats in the UK during 2019, of which the carrier offered 8.3 million of them, equating to 28.9%. It was also the sole operator of flights on about 85% of its UK domestic network.
However, since the airline ceased operations, many of its former routes have been picked up by other carriers; notably Aurigny Air Services, Blue Islands, Eastern Airways, Loganair and the newly launched Emerald Airlines.
Analysis of the 23 routes Flybe intends to serve this summer show it will face direct competition from one of more carriers on 15 of them. This includes 10 of the 11 routes being opened from Belfast City.