EXETER-based airline Flybe Group Plc carried 1.8million passengers in the last three months of 2015 – despite the Paris terror attacks.
The airline maintained the figure, the same as for the last quarter of 2014, by only upping seat capacity by 2.4 per cent, thus mitigating the drop off caused by the outrage at The Bataclan and other areas on November 13, 2015.
In a trading update statement ahead of publication of its 2015/16 results on June 9, 2016, Flybe also revealed its cash position remains strong with total of £171.3million at March 31, 2016.
Flybe, Europe's largest regional airline, said results for the full year to March 2016 are anticipated to be in line with market expectations.
It described Q4 2015 as one of “solid momentum” with stable yields against a 2.4 per cent increase in seat capacity versus the prior year, and a load factor of 68 per cent, a reduction of two percentage points compared to a year earlier.
Passenger revenue was in line with the previous year, and the firm stressed that during the fourth quarter seat capacity was increased at a temporarily lower rate of 2.4 per cent in response to the events in Paris in November.
The firm said this “agile response” ensured Flybe mitigated lower load factors with stable yields and delivered passenger volumes and revenue in line with the fourth quarter of 2015.
In March 2016, Flybe took ownership of three Q400 aircraft, previously on operating leases, for a cash consideration of US£34million.
This is in line with Flybe's strategy of rebalancing its aircraft fleet away from reliance on operating leases and towards outright ownership which brings the associated margin uplift.
Flybe also said its summer trading is on track with the additional capacity with a 17 per cent increase in capacity versus prior year and about 21 per cent of capacity already sold, three percentage points behind prior year, reflecting investment in added frequencies on 34 existing routes and the launch of 39 new routes.
In view of “ongoing macro-economic uncertainty”, Flybe has now hedged fuel oil and US dollar to 90 per cent of 2016/17's exposure.
The rise in the value of the dollar since the turn of the year has impacted 2016/17's operating costs by £7million.
Saad Hammad, chief executive, said: “This last year has seen enormous progress at Flybe.
“We completed the resolution of the key legacy issues while significantly improving our service and customer offering.
“We are carrying more passengers across a growing route network and doing so at a lower unit cost.
“Against the background of the highest level of market capacity growth for six years driven by low fuel prices, we continue to be disciplined in deploying our capacity, focusing investment on routes where airport partners provide cost mitigation and those which adhere strictly to our business model.
“We are also continuing to reduce unit cost, which provides margin resilience, as well as reviewing our capacity growth rate beyond this summer.
“Our booking profile for the summer reflects our capacity investments and our growing appeal to business travellers who typically book as close as possible to their day of travel.”
Originally posted on The Herald: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Flybe-flies-1-8m-people-despite-Paris-terror/story-29068791-detail/story.html?001