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Flybe ‘has no plans to axe flights’ despite fall in profits

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FLYBE has moved to reassure passengers it has no plans to reduce flights to and from Jersey, after revealing that half-year profits have nearly halved.

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The airline, which operates services between the Island and airports including East Midlands, Doncaster and Birmingham, last week posted underlying pre-tax profits of £8.4 million for the six months to 30 September, down from £15.9 million a year earlier.

However, Flybe shares edged higher because the result came in towards the top end of the range given in the firm’s October profit alert, when it had said profits could fall by up to 69%. The drop in profits was largely caused by higher-than-expected maintenance and IT costs.

In a statement, the firm said that it had no plans to reduce services to and from Jersey, and stressed that while profits were down, overall passenger numbers were up. And its load factor – a key measure of how well it fills it planes – improved as a result, up from 72 per cent last year to 76 per cent in 2017.

Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said: ‘While half-year profits are lower than last year… I am confident that we are on a clear path to sustainable profitability through the investments and improvements we are making at Flybe.’

She added the group would focus on improving its cost base and reliability performance, as well as continuing with investment in its new online system.

Airline analyst Gerald Khoo at equities research analysts Liberum said the latest set of interim results showed an ‘encouraging’ commercial performance.

He said: ‘As capacity growth has slowed, load factors and unit revenues have improved considerably.

‘However, a number of cost headwinds impacted the bottom line, and while some will not recur, we believe caution is warranted.’

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