Belfast Telegraph

Profit-making Flybe on airline acquisition trail

By Jamie Grierson

Regional airline Flybe said it will continue its expansion into continental Europe after becoming one of only three major European airlines to report profits throughout the recession.

The privately owned carrier, which flies to 17 destinations from George Best Belfast City Airport, said it is looking at potential acquisitions of regional airlines in Europe after weathering the economic storm.

But the airline said it would maintain its regional ethos, with flight times continuing to average less than an hour, on board planes with just 85 seats.

Flybe, which is also in flight share discussions with Scandinavian airline Finnair, said it had put in an order to purchase up to 140 new aircraft, which would replace some of its current 68-strong fleet.

The firm said it is now the largest scheduled airline by traffic movements, at Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Inverness, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Manchester, Manston, Norwich, Southampton and Southend airports.

Jim French, Flybe chief executive, said: "If you're making a profit during the recession, then that's the time to expand your business, and Northern Ireland will continue to be at the heart of the Flybe network."