Regional airline Flybe has reported growth in both turnover and passenger volumes during a period which saw the worst-ever decline in flying since the Second World War.

The results show a 6.8% growth in turnover to £572.4 million, while passenger numbers rose to 7.3 million for the financial year, up from seven million the previous year. The airline also posted a profit before tax of £12.8 million.

Although the results have only been released now, they refer to the year ending March 31, 2009, coinciding with the period when the recession properly hit the UK as the financial sector teetered on the brink of collapse.

The results also partially coincided with 2009, a year which saw international air passenger numbers fall by 3.5% with an average load factor of 75.6%.

Flybe chairman and chief executive Jim French said: “The Flybe business model was put to the ultimate test during the year and I am delighted to report that it came through with flying colours.

“In my 40 years in the industry, I have never experienced such a difficult environment and, in that context, we can rightly regard the result for the year as a success. I am proud that Flybe was one of few major airlines to announce a profit in the year.”

He said the airline had continued to do well throughout this financial year, recording further profits for the first six months of the present financial year.

“The airline is winning market share in a number of key markets and we are seeing substantial rationalisation by our competitors in our key domestic market place,” he added.

“In the first half of 2009-10, Flybe became the UK’s number one domestic airline. The airline is having a good recession and is well positioned to harvest the benefits when more benign economic conditions return.”