Belfast Telegraph

Flybe boss looking for more partnerships with international carriers

The boss of Flybe has said the regional airline will double-down on profitable routes and seal more partnerships with international carriers as she looks to shore up the company's finances.

Chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said the firm was following up on a " number of additional ... opportunities" and was on the cusp of announcing another global partner, as the airline looks to drive passenger traffic by connecting more regional customers with long-haul flights.

The partnerships - or codeshares - already allow customers to connect on from Aberdeen to Singapore, or Edinburgh to Los Angeles, and include major airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Air Berlin.

It comes after the firm recently secured a deal with Heathrow Airport, which has opened up new routes from Edinburgh and Aberdeen and the opportunity to secure more codeshares.

Ms Ourmieres-Widener told the Press Association: "We are currently following up a number of additional codeshare opportunities with carriers who have approached us and expect to confirm another international partner shortly."

Flybe, which carries around 8.8 million passengers across 199 scheduled routes, is seeking firmer financial ground after sinking to a £19.9 million pre-tax loss in the year to March 31, down from a £2.7 million profit the year before.

The firm came under pressure over the period from weaker demand following a string of overseas terror attacks, while its capacity increased due to an aircraft order linked to its stock market flotation seven years ago.

However, Ms Ourmieres-Widener said the fleet size will fall towards the end of this year, allowing the company to focus solely on its profitable routes.

She added: "There is a positive correlation between the decline of the capacity growth and the improvement of the load factor. We have been growing the capacity last year by more than 20% and we expect to be flat this year.

"We start to decrease the capacity from this winter because we are giving back aircraft to lessors.

"In the past ... it was better to fly the routes even if they were only covering direct cost, now moving forward when you have the right fleet you can definitely select and fly the routes that will improve your profitability.

"The main tool in the airline industry is the optimisation of your assets and each flight should be profitable and that is what we are working on flight by flight, route by route."

On Brexit, she said Britain's divorce from the European Union could impact "many dimensions of the organisation", but could also throw up opportunities.

She said: "As a flexible, adaptable, regional airline it could be an opportunity if some players decide that the UK is no longer the market that they want to invest in.

"We represent 53% of the domestic market in the UK, so we have a role to play going forward to make sure these connections stay strong through Brexit."

Popular