Greater capacity control with a concentration on profitable routes helped Flybe raise revenue in the three months to June.
Revenue grew by 11.7% to £174 million based on a 3.5% rise in capacity as the regional airline flew 7.1% more passengers to 2.4 million over the same period last year.
The load factor also improved by 2.5 percentage points to 72.5% with a 4.3% improvement in passenger yield to £71.33.
Quarterly revenue was boosted by new routes from Heathrow and the busy Easter period falling in April this year.
While first half capacity until the end of September is likely to grow by around 2%, the regional airline plans a 7% cut in availability, reflecting a smaller fleet and winter scheduling plans.
Contract negotiations for a new digital platform are expected to be finalised in the coming month, the airline revealed in a quarterly trading statement today.
“As advised at the year-end results in June, we anticipate a provision for IT costs of around £6 million in the first half of 2017/18 relating to cancellation penalties on existing IT contracts,” Flybe said.
“Once introduced, the new platform will improve booking experience, attract new customers and enhance our customer relationship management.”
The airline reported that 52% of seats had been sold for the current peak summer quarter against 48% at this time last year with a 4% increase in yield and revenue up by 14%.
A commercial agreement with Stobart Air to operate two E195 jets from Southend airport started in May with one aircraft in operation and the second due next month.
The last two leased Q400 aircraft were delivered in the quarter with the total fleet peaking at 85 aircraft in May.
Six Q400s are in the process of being handed back at the end of their leases as part of planned fleet reduction.
The airline reported a halving of flight cancellations year-on-year as part of a drive to improve customer satisfaction and cost efficiency.
Chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said she was “very encouraged” by her first six months in charge.
“Both load factor and passenger yield have improved as expected, and with the greater control we have over capacity we will focus on rebuilding unit revenues,” she said.
“Alongside this, we are investing in the future, as demonstrated by our new Heathrow flights, our commitment to improve operational performance and deliver an enhanced customer digital platform.
“I am very excited about developments in Scotland, with our new routes complemented by the recently announced partnership with Eastern Airways, which gives increased connectivity options for passengers, and shows our long-term commitment to Scotland.”
She added: “There remains a lot to be done, but we have the firm foundations needed to progress our plans for the business. In the second half of 2017/18, given the planned capacity reductions, there will be an increased focus on efficiency to improve operational performance and manage unit costs.”
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