FlyBe To Cut 23 Routes And Closes Two Bases

Regional airline Flybe is to fold operations at two UK airports as part of a program of fleet restructuring.

Flybe Q400 airborne
Flybe to close Cardiff and Doncaster bases towards the end of the year. Photo: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

On April 3rd this year, Flybe announced its intention to end jet ops at Exeter, Norwich, Cardiff and Doncaster from the beginning of the 2019 winter season. On the same day, it was forced to cancel dozens of flights due to staff shortages.

This month, the carrier’s most recent winter season manifest, published by routesonline.com, sees the closure of airports and routes as promised. Effective from October 27th the airline will no longer fly Embraers out of Cardiff or Doncaster. It will, however, continue to service both airports with its Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s.

In its initial announcement, Flybe admitted that the move was part of a drive to reduce fleet numbers. It has also been urged to return its 118-seat Embraer 195 aircraft to lessors.

From Exeter, the airline will cease jet ops from October 26th. Its Q400 scheduling remains unaffected, as does the airport’s role as the company’s headquarters. Once jet ops end at Norwich, Flybe will continue services via its 2017 bed-fellow Eastern Airways.

Flybe jet airborne
Flybe will continue to service Norwich via Eastern. Photo: Flybe

Fleet reduction

Of the airline’s need to scale back operations, writes Travel Mole, Flybe’s ex-boss Christine Ourmières-Widener said,

Our fleet reduction has always been core to improving our profitability. We are committed to assisting all our affected employees across the impacted Flybe bases. We remain fully committed to Exeter, Cardiff and Doncaster airports and will continue to offer a comprehensive choice of regional and European destinations operated by our 78-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft.”

In May, Flybe revealed its intention to make the Q400 the “backbone” of its fleet. We have asked Flybe to provide a comment on the current restructuring but have so far received no reply.

Flight delays

Just before announcing its intention to pare back the fleet, Flybe was hit by staff shortages. As we reported at the time, around 30 flights were canceled including those to and from Belfast, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Southampton. Some international routes were also affected.

Flybe admitted that the delays were related at least in part to restructuring, but denied rumors that its planned reorganization would mean further passenger inconvenience. In a statement published at the time by The Guardian, the carrier said,

Flybe sincerely apologises to our customers and partners affected by the current flight cancellations.

“We are doing our best to mitigate the impact of the current situation that has arisen due to a combination of factors including seasonality, pilots’ end-of-year leave, Easter holidays, base restructuring and the shortage of pilots across the industry that Flybe has highlighted in recent months.”

Flybe jet airborne
Delays due to restructuring a fallacy, says Flybe. Photo: Flybe

Connect Airways

In November last year, Flybe was put up for sale after falling profits. British consortium Connect Airways was formed specifically to acquire the struggling airline. Connect bought the airline in February of this year when its offer of £2.8 million was accepted.

On July 5th, The European Commission formally approved Connect’s acquisition of Flybe providing Connect complies with the following condition:

Connect Airways [to be] committed to the release of five daily slot pairs at Amsterdam Schiphol airport and three daily slot pairs at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Under the proposed commitments, these slots will be released to competing airlines that want to fly the Birmingham – Amsterdam and Birmingham – Paris routes.”

Routes closed

According to routesonline.com the following Flybe routes are to be discontinued:

  • Cardiff – Faro Last flight on 26OCT19
  • Cardiff – Glasgow Last flight on 25OCT19
  • Cardiff – Milan Malpensa Last flight on 28SEP19
  • Cardiff – Munich Last flight on 06SEP19
  • Cardiff – Rome Last flight on 07SEP19
  • Cardiff – Verona Last flight on 07SEP19
  • Cardiff – Venice Last flight on 07SEP19
  • Doncaster/Sheffield – Alicante Last flight on 26OCT19
  • Doncaster/Sheffield – Dublin Last flight on 25OCT19
  • Doncaster/Sheffield – Jersey Last flight on 26OCT19
  • Doncaster/Sheffield – Paris CDG Last flight on 25OCT19
  • Exeter – Alicante Last flight on 25OCT19
  • Exeter – Faro Last flight on 26OCT19
  • Exeter – Malaga Last flight on 26OCT19
  • Manchester – Innsbruck Seasonal service not returning in W19/20 season
  • Newquay – Leeds/Bradford Last flight on 25OCT19
  • Norwich – Alicante Last flight on 25OCT19
  • Norwich – Exeter Last flight on 25OCT19
  • Norwich – Malaga last flight on 24OCT19
  • Southampton – Alicante Last flight on 26OCT19
  • Southampton – La Rochelle Last flight on 22SEP19
  • Southampton – Nantes Last flight on 08SEP19
  • Southampton – Rennes Last flight on 24SEP19
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