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Flybe escapes worst of economic downturn

Flybe escapes worst of economic downturn

British-based airline Flybe has reported a surge in profits as the aviation sector continues to emerge from the economic recession.

The regional airline – which is based at Exeter International Airport - recorded a before tax profit of £5.7 million for the year ended March 31st 2010.

This is up from the £0.1 million recorded during the previous financial year.

“Against a backdrop of the continued impact of the recession and the effects of extreme volatility in fuel prices, Flybe grew its market share to become Europe’s largest regional airline,” said Flybe chairman Jim French.

EBITDAR at the airline increased by 4.7 per cent to £93.8 million over the financial year, while ancillary revenues per passenger increased by 15.9 per cent to £11.98.

Net debt more than halved to £21.0 million, while turnover held at £570.5 million.

“Flybe has a great cost-effective product which is underpinned by consistent delivery of industry leading punctuality,” continued Mr French.

Air Southwest will continue to operate as a separate brand

Air Southwest

In contrast to the soaring fortunes of Flybe, Plymouth-based airline Air Southwest has been sold to Eastern Airways.

The airline employs 150 in the south-west of England and offers departures to UK regional airports, the Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands.

Current owners Owner Sutton Harbour Holdings took a decision to sell in May after the airline’s operating profits fell by £600,000.

Following the deal Air Southwest will continue to fly under its existing brand.

Nigel Godefroy, chief executive of the Sutton Harbour Group, said: “Being part of a larger airline will bring stability to Air Southwest and that is good news for air travel to and from the far South West, and for Plymouth and Newquay airports.”

bmi faces court in a battle with Unite


Also in UK aviation, the Unite trade union has declared its intention to take bmi to court over accusations the airline breached staff contracts after failing to uphold a three-year pay deal in 2007.

The final pay rise under the deal – which was initially due in April last year - was deferred to bolster the beleaguered company’s finances.

However, Unite argues bmi is refusing to deliver it a year later.

Unite’s national officer, Brian Boyd, said: “Staff agreed to defer the increase to help the company during difficult times, they are still waiting for the company to honour its end of the bargain.

“Staff have not had an increase in earnings since 2008.”

bmi - Heathrow’s second-largest airline – said talks were ongoing.

The British airline is owned by German flag-carrier Lufthansa but has struggle in recent years as its low-cost model is squeezed by Ryanair and easyJet.

While its portfolio of slots at Heathrow make it an attractive takeover target for rivals – including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – the airline lacks the scale to expand independently.