Flybe hits sales turbulence

Recovery en route says CEO
Recovery en route says CEO

Regional airline Flybe said slowing consumer demand and over capacity sent it swinging to a loss last year.

The firm, which operates a significant hub at Belfast City Airport, posted a £19.9 million pre-tax loss in the year to March 31, compared to a profit of £2.7m last year, despite revenue increasing 13.4% to £707.4m.

In a statement the firm said that despite “substantial progress” in reducing the size of legacy fleet orders in 2015/16, it had still seen significant capacity growth in a market where it witnessed slower growth in consumer demand.

“New routes and increased frequencies were targeted to cover marginal costs in the early years of operation, but do not contribute significantly to overall profitability,” it added.

“The capacity growth, therefore, had a negative effect on profitability.”

The firm was also stung by a £4.8m writedown linked to an IT upgrade and it anticipates further IT costs of around £6m relating to cancellation penalties on existing contracts.

CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener said the airline had moved to drive down costs while reducing its flight capacity, adding that the new financial year has started well.

“I am truly passionate about the airline industry and I see tremendous opportunities for Flybe to connect and engage with communities and to establish a reputation for excellence in serving our customers.”