New Flybe boss pledges to attack costs

The new boss of Flybe has pledged to attack costs in order to make the regional carrier a more “customer-focussed” business.

The message from chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener came as the airline revealed a 13.5% year-on-year rise in passenger revenue to £146.3 million in the three months to December.

Passenger numbers increased by almost 10% to 2.1 million in the quarter.

But Flybe warned that “uncertain customer confidence and poor weather” had contributed to a slow start to the current quarter with a 1% decline in yield and revenue per seat.

This came as the airline’s load factor fell by 1.7 percentage points to 67.2% in the three months to December due to previously committed additional capacity.

The airline said that “increased capacity and tough trading conditions resulted in lower load factors” in the third quarter of the carrier’s financial year.

“As we passed the anniversary of last year’s tragic events in Paris and with the benefit of management actions, seat capacity growth started to slow, passenger yield increased and the decline in revenue per seat slowed,” Flybe said.

Four additional Q400 aircraft were added to the fleet during the quarter and four more will be delivered in the current three months.

UK regional connectivity will be increased with new routes between Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Heathrow from March 26.

Flybe’s first routes to the London hub will allow for connectivity with codeshare partners, including Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic as well as interline connections with United Airlines, Delta, Qantas, TAP and Cathay Pacific.

More connectivity will be added over the coming months, the airline said.

Former CityJet boss Ourmieres-Widener, who joined Flybe as chief executive on January 16, said: “I have only just started work as chief executive at Flybe. However, everything I have seen so far confirms my excitement at the opportunity we have to become the best regional airline in Europe.

“There is much to be done, but we have the firm foundations needed to develop the business. My first priority is to look to rebuild passenger unit revenue and to challenge all our costs.

“This will be assisted by Flybe becoming an even more customer-focussed business as we achieve greater control over our fleet size.”

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