Flybe Collapse: Key regional airports decimated

Flybe Dash 8 at London City Airport (Image: Aviation Media Agency)
Flybe Dash 8 at London City Airport (Image: Aviation Media Agency)

Several key regional airports have been left decimated by the collapse of regional airline Flybe (BE/BEE) in the early hours of this morning.

As a regional airline, Flybe connected smaller airports across the UK with some having over 90% reliance on the brand.

Southampton Airport (SOU/EGHI)

In 2019, 95% of departures from Southampton Airport were Flybe flights making it the worst affected in the UK.

Southampton Airport was asked to comment on the collapse but due to “IT issues” they have not as yet provided any.

Belfast City (BHD/EGAC)

At Belfast City Airport 79% of flights in 2019 were Flybe flights making it the second worst-hit airport after Southampton.

Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport said: “From Belfast City Airport, Flybe had operated a strong and profitable base of 14 routes to key regional destinations across the UK, including international hubs such as Birmingham and Manchester.
 
“The airline was a significant economic driver for the region, carrying 1.6 million passengers to and from Belfast in 2019.
 
“I am confident that these well-established routes, coupled with our city centre location and recent £15m investment in terminal facilities, will prove an attractive option to airlines.
 
“Negotiations with a number of carriers are already underway. “

Exeter Airport & Flybe Aircraft (Image: Exeter Airport)
Exeter Airport & Flybe Aircraft (Image: Exeter Airport)

Exeter Airport (EXT/EGTE)

Exeter Airport is the home of Flybe and location of its headquarters so it’s unsurprising that 78% of flights from the airport in 2019 were Flybe flights.

It was also home to Flybe’s maintenance centre.

Cornwall Newquay Airport (NQY/EGHQ)

Cornwall’s Newquay Airport had 65% of its flights operated by Flybe in 2019 including a Public Service Obligation (PSO) route to London.

Flybe had already said it was ending the London route and British Airways is due to replace it in June.

In a statement on the website, the airport said: “We are saddened by the news that Flybe has ceased trading. We can confirm that all Flybe flights to and from Cornwall Airport Newquay are cancelled with immediate effect, this includes flights operated by Stobart Air. Passengers due to travel with Flybe’s franchise partners: Blue Islands and Eastern Airways, are advised to contact their airline to confirm their travel arrangements.”

Jersey (JSY/EGJJ)

Jersey has a special relationship with Flybe in fact, the airline launched in 1973 as Jersey European.

The airport still relies on Flybe for 57% of its flights including connecting the islands with mainland Britain.

Flybe at Cardiff Airport (The Aviation Media Agency)
Flybe at Cardiff Airport (The Aviation Media Agency)

Cardiff Airport (CWL/EGFF)

The last airport to tip the 50% mark is Cardiff Airport in South Wales.

In 2019 the airport saw 51% of its flights operated by Flybe although that had already dropped for 2020 after the closure of Flybe’s 3 aircraft base at the airport at the end of Summer 2019.

Flybe also sold tickets for the PSO route from Cardiff Airport to Anglesey although this is operated by franchise partner Eastern Airways and expected to continue.

Deb Bowen Rees, CEO of Cardiff Airport, said: “We are deeply saddened by today’s announcement that Flybe has ceased operations, impacting its operations across the UK. Our thoughts are with our many friends and colleagues at Flybe as well as our customers who have had their travel plans disrupted.

“As one of the UK’s largest regional airlines, Flybe is a well-known brand across South Wales and has made a hugely positive impact on Cardiff Airport and confidence in the Airport over recent years.

“We are actively talking to a number of airlines about the opportunity that exists in flying to and from South Wales. Given the Flybe news we will focus on filling the core domestic routes which Flybe serve for the region.

Flights to Anglesey, Teeside and Aberdeen will continue to operate as normal with Eastern Airways.  Customers due to fly with Flybe to other destinations are advised not to travel to the Airport. All flights with other operators are flying as normal.”

So what next for these airports?

At the moment it is hard to see what airlines will step in and take over routes left vacant by Flybe.

The industry as a whole is seeing a decline in demand due to the Coronavirus which makes it hard for airlines to commit to routes, even though paradoxically many have the extra capacity to do so.

Flybe offered around 88 routes across the UK and Europe which aren’t offered by any other airline so there is definitely a gap in the market but some would also argue that if these routes were profitable, then Flybe would not have collapsed.

One thing is for certain, It is going to be a worrying few months for many Airport CEO’s as they desperately seek to fill the void left by Flybe.

*All figures quoted above are based on the 2019 Data from Cirium.

About Nick Harding 961 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.