While other airlines are going bust or reporting big losses, regional airline Flybe has announced record profits and strong growth.
One of the largest regional airlines in Europe, Flybe’s turnover for the year ending March 31, 2008 was up 46% to £535.9 million, and pre-tax profits rose by £20 million to £35.4 million.
And the first quarter of this financial year has also begun well, with pre-tax earnings rising by 14% compared to last year to £12.2 million and passenger numbers increasing by 18% on the same period last year.
“Flybe became one of Europe’s largest regional airlines in 2007/08 in what was a transformational year for the business as we successfully integrated and realised the benefits of the acquisition of BA Connect,” says Flybe chairman and CEO, Jim French. BA Connect, a regional airline operated by BA, was purchased in March 2007.
Flybe has its base at Exeter airport and now offers more than 190 routes across Europe from UK airports including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, Norwich and Belfast City. The airline will also become the second biggest in Scotland next month when Loganair re-brands its aircraft in Flybe livery following a franchise agreement.
During a time when other airlines have been hit by record oil prices, Flybe has also managed to minimise the impact of high fuel bills by hedging about 60% of its total fuel needs. It also has a relatively modern, more fuel efficient fleet.
“With current fuel costs at 24% of total costs, Flybe’s fuel costs represent one of the lowest percentage burdens in the industry. With one of the most fuel-efficient fleets and a passenger base that is less dependent upon discretionary leisure spend, Flybe is continuing to perform strongly in the current difficult environment,” says French.
The airline is also confident about its long term prospects. “The combination of our long-term strategy, focussed management actions and strong cash position gives us a major opportunity to maximise the opportunities that will surely come as the industry enters a period of consolidation,” French adds.