Turnaround plan pays off for Flybe as airline jets back into profit

Flybe's new purple livery on a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 aircraft.

Flybe's new purple livery on a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 aircraft. - Credit: Theo Moye

Flybe celebrated its first profit in four years after the regional airline boosted passenger numbers and benefited from a turnaround drive.

The Exeter-based business, which serves 35 UK airports inlcuding Norwich having reduced its number of bases from 13 to seven in the last year, posted bottom-line profits of £8.1m in the year to March 31, compared with £41.1m a year earlier.

Chief executive Saad Hammad said the figures marked the 'rebirth of Flybe' after a restructuring that has seen the loss of 1,100 jobs and a 1.4% reduction in capacity as it moves to shed loss-making routes.

It carried a record 7.7 million passengers on its UK scheduled services in the period, a rise of 6.9% as it benefited from fare promotions and better routes.

The airline recently announced five new routes from London City airport and a complete relaunch of the Flybe brand but some further job losses are still likely after this summer as seasonal routes are discontinued and aircraft grounded.

However, the airline added: 'We believe that we are now on the verge of emerging from this period of retrenchment, and looking forward to future considered and careful profitable growth.'

The group has its regional bases in Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Manchester and Southampton.

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It also has a white label business with Finland's Finnair, where it flies planes under the Finnish airline's livery and which posted a profit before tax of £6.3 million, compared with £4.6 million a year ago.

The group said it is in discussions with other major carriers about expanding its white label joint ventures.