The loss of Flybe is bad news for Britain: see why

Flybe’s route map, HQ in Exeter marked yellow

The loss of Flybe is tragic news for its 2,000 staff but will have a major knock on effect across the UK.

Anglesey Airport in Wales was 100% dependent on Flybe, Southampton on the south coast of England, has no other airport within less than around 70 miles that flies anywhere domestically. 95% of Southampton’s flights were Flybe, its loss means the possible closure of the airport and up to another 800 jobs.

75% of Newquay Airport’s capacity in Cornwall, was supplied by Flybe, Exeter Airport, the airlines HQ also around 73% and Belfast around 70%.

The loss in UK domestic route capacity is around 4 million seats per year, many of those on routes with no competitor.

Flybe ranked second just after easyJet as the UK’s largest domestic airline, and was the largest regional airline in Europe.

Airports like Birmingham (BHX) and Manchester will also be affected – BHX had around 20% of its flights and almost an entire departure building allocated to Flybe.

Along with Flybe go Virgin Atlantic’s dreams of Virgin Connect and a domestic feeder service to its long haul operation. Ironically the day before it had only just completed adding its code share routings to Flybe on its website.

Aircraft are parked up as follows:

  • Aberdeen: 3 x Q400
  • Edinburgh 8 x Q400
  • Glasgow 3 x Q400
  • Belfast 7 x Q400
  • Manchester 6 x Q400, 3 x E175
  • Douglas IoM 1 x Q400
  • Birmingham 5 x Q400, 4 x E175
  • Cardiff 1 x Q400
  • Exeter – HQ – 10 x Q400, 1 x E175, 1 E190
  • Heathrow 1 x Q400
  • Newquay 1 x Q400
  • Southampton 6 x Q400
  • Dusseldorf 1 x Q400

Only around 23% of the fleet are owned by the airline, the rest is leased.

Flybe had planned on operating just under 5 million seats on 67,920 flights to 27 UK and 28 international airports over the March-September summer season.

Overall Flybe’s busiest routes were Birmingham to Edinburgh, Belfast and Glasgow, with close on 580,000 passengers predicted for this year.

Thirty of its top routes were all considered completely viable, and profitable, but the airline persisted with routes that it should have cut a long time ago. It also failed to move more effectively into Heathrow soon enough, once it had the backing to do so.

It’s also still a mystery as to why the E190/175 fleet wasn’t completely disposed of far sooner than this, having made repeated promises it would do so.

It’s a very sad day for the industry, for the UK, its regions and airports, and even sadder that the consortium which included Virgin Atlantic and its Delta owners couldn’t have taken a longer view and propped the airline up until it could complete its turn around.