Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City Airport loses more routes as Flybe cuts back

BY LESLEY HOUSTON

Belfast is set to lose more air routes as Flybe announces a cut in services.

The Flybe route from George Best Belfast City Airport to Paris Charles de Gaulle via Exeter is to be axed on January 19.

The airline's summer service to Jersey will also be lost, shutting down the route which previously ran from May to September.

Services to the French capital, which have been flying through Exeter since 2008, will, however, continue to be accessible via Birmingham and Manchester.

The airline runs a number of flights per day from both cities to Paris, a company spokesperson said.

The news follows the announcement that Flybe's Belfast to Gatwick route will fly for the last time in March.

It comes after last month's bombshell that the airline was making 52 redundancies among pilots and cabin crew at the Belfast base as part of a cost-cutting drive across the business.

The airline's chief executive Saad Hammad said that without the restructuring the Exeter-based carrier – which employs 2,700 people – could not be viable.

Passengers affected are being offered alternative Flybe flights or a refund on their tickets.

Flybe's chief commercial officer Paul Simmons revealed the changes as part of its summer 2014 schedule.

"We have taken a long, hard look at all the routes we fly from Belfast City to make sure they are what our customers really want and that they operate at the best possible times for everyone," he said.

"The extent of our regional network, with more than 150 routes on sale for next summer, means that no other airline has the regional and onward international connectivity offered by Flybe."

In early November the former easyJet chief commercial officer, who joined the company in August, said costs were needed to "make efficiency improvements".

Mr Hammad said: "Our original concept of regional connectivity was a sound one, but we have executed that very, very badly in recent years. We want to execute it very well."

Since hitting a period of turbulence Flybe has focused on shoring up its core regional bases in Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham and the Channel Islands.

The measures are expected to save the airline £26m a year from next year, on top of previous initiatives to save £40m this year and £45m in 2014-15.

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