Having, for the fifth consecutive Quarter, been the recipient of London Gatwick Airport’s Gold Award for on-time punctuality, Flybe has once more renewed its call on the airport’s owners to explain why they are so determined to financially penalise its most consistently punctual airline and one that is also its largest operator of domestic flights?
Flybe, Europe’s largest regional carrier, has for over 20 years provided crucial lifeline services to London and to passengers wanting seamless connections to the rest of the world from Gatwick. Last year it carried 1.2 million regional passengers to and from the South East airport with a choice of up to 438 flights a week on ten routes*. Only a couple of weeks ago, Flybe was also recognised for its on-time performance on one of its Channel Island routes in the latest Civil Aviation Authority Punctuality report (July 2012) for having been the most punctual airline operating between London Gatwick and Jersey for the past 17 consecutive months.
Yet in 2011, a dramatic change in the airport’s pricing policy by its new owners witnessed a substantial and punitive increase in landing charges for smaller aircraft, resulting in an 18% annual rise in landing fees. Such an increase seems at odds with logic, given Flybe’s fleet of fuel efficient, environmentally sensitive aircraft and long-standing commitment to connecting the UK’s regions to London Gatwick.
Andrew Strong, Flybe UK Managing Director says: “We are naturally pleased to have been recognised yet again for outperforming for punctuality every other airline operating at London Gatwick. However, it is disappointing that good performance gets rewarded with even higher airport charges.”
“Flybe is committed to ‘Making flying better’ for its passengers. With travellers’ time at a premium, we fully appreciate the importance of them reaching their destination on-time and of having an attractive choice of affordable travel to convenient regional destinations. While the increased charges may be legal, London Gatwick refuses to recognise the impact the ridiculously unfair fees they now persist in levying on our smaller aircraft whilst at the same time obviously valuing, and themselves benefitting from, the consistently exemplary on-time performance Flybe provides for their customers.”