Flybe has confirmed to the London Stock Exchange it has sold its arrival and departure slots at London Gatwick airport, thus bringing to an end its 22 year record of providing high-frequency air services from the UK regions to the airport.
Flybe will continue to fly all its routes until the end of March 2014.
The slots have been sold to easyJet for a cash sum of £20 million.
The decision is as a result of the pricing regime applied by the airport’s owners to the operators of smaller, regional aircraft which, in Flybe’s case, has resulted in a 102 per cent rise over the last five years.
In a well-publicised, lengthy and expensive complaint, the airline used the Airports Act 1986 to argue to the Civil Aviation Authority in 2010 that Gatwick was acting in an anti-competitive and discriminatory manner.
Despite support from other airlines, communities and governments around the British Isles, and the fact that Flybe operates more UK domestic flights than any other airline, the CAA ruled in September 2012 that Gatwick was within its rights to raise their landing fees for smaller aircraft, thus paving the way for today’s “regrettable” announcement.
Flybe will continue to operate as normal all its seven domestic Gatwick routes - from Belfast City, Guernsey, Inverness, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Newcastle and Newquay - until Saturday March 29th 2014, with no changes to pricing, frequency or timings.
It also confirmed that there will be no impact upon any other route currently operated from those seven airports and that the funds generated by the sale of the slots will be re-invested in the remaining 159 Flybe routes.