By Adrian Bishop

Europe’s largest independent airline, Flybe, has announced new routes in the UK and Europe and has released seats for winter 2018/2019 earlier than usual. Flybe carries 8 million passengers a year between 81 airports across the UK and Europe, with over 2

10 routes across 15 countries.

New London to Belfast flights

Starting in May 2018, Flybe is launching an extra 12 weekly flights between London City airport and George Best Belfast City Airport.

The new schedule, which begins on Monday 7th May, includes new morning, early evening and weekend flights and is aimed primarily at business clients. One-way fares start from £39.99 including taxes and charges.

Roy Kinnear, Flybe’s Chief Commercial Officer, says the new flights followed requests from passengers at Belfast.

“The message came through loud and clear that a number one priority to all was the importance of having an enhanced London connection. This reinforced the fact that our London City service is an attractive proposition most especially to the business sector given the airport’s location in the heart of the city and its proximity to Canary Wharf. 

“As a result of receiving some very solid customer feedback, we have added 12 new return flights a week on this route giving the choice of up to six flights a day and a new service on both Saturdays and Sundays. This move, when coupled with the other 14 destinations we offer from Belfast, further underlines Flybe’s commitment to providing unmatched regional connectivity for its customers in Northern Ireland.”

Katy Best, Commercial Director at Belfast City Airport, adds, “The expansion of what is a key route for business passengers in particular is fantastic news and provides a boost for the local economy.”

Flybe winter programme features 127 routes

Flybe has now announced the first phase of its 2018/19 winter programme earlier than usual. It features 127 routes and a choice of up to 2,683 flights a week throughout the UK and mainland Europe.

The seats, which include 14 ski routes and eight winter sun destinations cover travel between 28 October 2018 and 13 January 2019. In addition, the Doncaster Sheffield to Belfast City is operating for the first time in winter.

There will be up to seven flights a day from Birmingham-Amsterdam; Birmingham-Glasgow; Belfast City-Manchester; Belfast City-Birmingham and Edinburgh-Birmingham.   

Corvera air terminal operations body Aena, aims to serve four million a year by the time its franchise runs out in 25 years.

The 'arduous task' of moving operations from Murcia-San Javier airport, near Cartagena, to Corvera has now started, says Mr Rajoy. The transition is being overseen by Mariano Menor, director of San Janvier airport.

Aena President, Jaime Garcia-Legaz, says the “top level” airport will be named after the inventor of the gyroplane, Juan de la Cierva.

Aena is now getting safety evaluation, planning and legal documentation needed before the airport’s planned opening in December 2018.

Winter ski routes

The 14 Winter Ski routes are:

  • Chambery from Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Manchester and Southampton
  • Geneva from Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Isle of Man, Jersey and Southampton
  • Innsbruck from Manchester
  • Lyon from Birmingham and Manchester.

Winter sun routes

The Winter Sun routes are: 

  • Alicante from Doncaster Sheffield, Exeter, Norwich and Southampton
  • Faro from Cardiff and expanded schedule from Exeter
  • Malaga from Norwich and Exeter.

There is an improved weekend schedule being introduced on key routes from Exeter with later Sunday returns from Amsterdam, Jersey, Guernsey and Manchester and return of weekend flights to Norwich.

Popular Christmas and New Year flight return

The popular Christmas and New Year flights from Southampton to regional France – Limoges, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Nantes and Rennes return, along with a full winter schedule to Bergerac

Also, back is the Christmas and New Year service between Birmingham – Newquay; and extra seasonal frequency on many routes including Exeter-Glasgow, Belfast City, Dublin and Newcastle.

Roy Kinnear says, “It is great news for our customers that this year we are putting our 2018/19 winter schedule on sale earlier than ever before. It gives plenty of time for decision making but also allows regular winter travellers the chance to make their plans. We have an extensive choice of destinations not only for winter getaways but also for essential business travel with the opportunity to book the lowest possible fares. Flybe’s network makes it easier than ever for our customers to travel from regional airports close to where they live, saving valuable time, effort and money.”

Flybe helps Heathrow attract record passenger numbers

In February 2018, growing Flybe traffic helped London Heathrow rise 2.4% year-on-year to a record 5.4 million passengers. Domestic routes also grew strongly in February, up by 3.6% as Flybe carried 17,000 more passengers. Emerging markets were also an important source of growth, with South Asia up by 12.7% and Latin America up by 6.5%.

Flybe adds third aircraft to Cardiff fleet

At Cardiff Airport, Flybe has increased its fleet from two to three for the start of its summer schedule, following a 130% rise in passenger numbers during 2017.

It currently runs 17 routes from Cardiff to seven countries, including a new twice-weekly service to Venice, Italy, which starts on 27th March.

Flybe’s chief strategy officer Vincent Hodder says, “Offering an attractive selection of destinations to and from local regional airports is our core business. The success of our growth at Cardiff also reflects our recent brand refresh that features the ‘Close to You’ strapline in our marketing messaging.

“It highlights the leading position and intent we have to continue providing unparalleled air travel to and from the regions. Our increased presence at Cardiff is perfect testament to this.”

Manchester hub anniversary

Flybe operates 17,500 regional flights a year at Manchester where it is the airport’s largest scheduled carrier and has just celebrated its sixth anniversary of its regional hub.

In 2012, the airline committed to improve connectivity, so, it set about adjusting its domestic schedules and reduced minimum connection times to as little as 35 minutes.

For example, a passenger wanting to travel to Aberdeen from Southampton, has a choice of up to four connecting flights a day via Manchester – with a total point to point travel time of just three hours. By rail, this would take 10 hours with three station changes.

International connections via codesharing

Flybe’s Manchester hub has also created additional opportunities for customers via connections operated by codeshare airlines to global destinations operating out of Manchester to locations including Abu Dhabi, Chicago, and Toronto.

Virgin Atlantic recently announced it is increasing its codeshare agreement with Flybe at Manchester. This has opened up all of Virgin Atlantic’s seven Manchester routes to customers travelling from the Scottish city for the first time that are currently Atlanta, Barbados, Boston, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and San Francisco.

Flybe Chief Executive Officer, Christine Ourmières-Widener, says, “We operate more flights to and from Manchester than any other scheduled carrier and it is our largest base.”

Stephen Turner, Commercial Director at Manchester Airport, said, “We are delighted to celebrate Flybe’s anniversary here today at Manchester Airport. Flybe offers great domestic destinations here in the UK from Manchester, connecting the North West to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the South West.

“Furthermore, through the airline’s many codeshares with our long-haul carriers, we really are the global gateway in the North for the 22 milllion people who live in our catchment area. We look forward to continuing to grow with Flybe and provide options for all our passengers whether they want to travel from Belfast to Beijing or Southampton to Seattle.”

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