UK regional airline Flybe has undertaken a major route reshuffle ahead of its winter 2019/20 schedule. Services from Birmingham to Berlin Tegel, Milan Malpensa and Lyon have all been suspended for the winter season. While these are set to restart in February 2020, a number of other routes have been cut on a more permanent basis. Flights from Birmingham to Hannover and Hamburg as well as London City to Dusseldorf have been axed from the schedules, probably for good.
While it’s not unusual for airlines to adjust schedules to accommodate seasonal demand, UK regional carrier Flybe has undergone a bit more of a major shakeup. As reported today in Business Traveller, the airline is not only suspending some routes for the winter period, it’s also cutting some services altogether with no sign of them returning next year.
Altogether, services from Birmingham to Berlin Tegel, Hamburg, Hannover, Lyon and Milan Malpensa will cease from the end of October. While Berlin, Milan and Lyon are set to return from mid-February 2020, the other routes are suspended indefinitely.
For those in the West Midlands, this announcement will come as a blow, particularly to business travelers who rely on these connections for work. No other carriers provide a replacement service from Birmingham at this time, leaving passengers to find connections from other airports.
Simple Flying reached out to Flybe for more information on these changes, who told us:
“Flybe has recently completed an exhaustive network review to strengthen the commercial viability of its 2019-20 Winter schedule, further optimise its flying programme and improve profitability in line with its previously announced planned fleet reduction.
“This has resulted in a number of its least profitable routes being cancelled with effect from the end of the 2019 Summer season on 26th October 2019, including flights from Birmingham to Hamburg and Hannover. In addition, some seasonal adjustments have been made to its 2019-20 Winter schedule that operates between 27th October and 28th March 2020 by reducing frequency on routes such as Birmingham to Lyon, Berlin Tegel and Milan Malpensa which will resume on 14th February, with some additional flying on certain days over the winter period.
“Flybe would sincerely apologise for the inconvenience to those customers affected and confirms that all are being contacted and offered the option of being rebooked on an alternative flight or receiving a full refund.”
What is surprising about this is that Flybe says they will do ‘some additional flying on certain days’ over the suspension period. Perhaps they are planning on offering some ad-hoc Christmas and New Year services. However, it’s unlikely they’ll get a whole lot of bookings if most passengers assume the services are suspended.
In addition to the route changes at Birmingham, the carrier has noted a cessation of services from London City Airport to Dusseldorf. As noted by the carrier as being a ‘least profitable route’, this is not a seasonal cancellation and is unlikely to return in the spring.
Business Traveller also reported, earlier in the month, that Dusseldorf was being dropped from Leeds and Southampton. While travelers from London City are able to hop on an alternative service operated by BA, those from Southampton and Leeds are left with no service.
Since being bought out by the Virgin Atlantic led consortium of Connect Airways, Flybe has been undergoing a cost cutting exercise, that has led to the shakeup of a number of routes. Just a couple of weeks ago, the airline left Doncaster Sheffield airport for good and announced the closure of its base on the Isle of Man.
It appears that the shakeup is not yet over, and UK regional travelers should brace themselves for yet more route announcements in the coming weeks.