Flybe announces its first Summer flight schedule under Virgin Atlantic ownership

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Flybe has launched its Summer schedule for 2020, which will be the first to reflect its new focus under Virgin Atlantic ownership.  Seven new routes have been announced.

Having attended the Virgin Connect (as Flybe will be rebranded) launch event last month, I can confirm that the new management team is very focused on returning the airline to profitability.  Part of this was to be a razor-sharp focus on routes where it believes it can make money over the long term.

The biggest changes will be at London Southend Airport.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Southend is owned by Stobart Group which is also a shareholder in Flybe.

Six new routes will be launched from Southend to Belfast City, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Isle of Man and Jersey.  Existing services from Southend to Caen, Groningen, Newquay and Rennes will continue.  Loganair immediately responded by announcing plans to drop its own Southend to Glasgow service.

The only other brand new route is Manchester to Stuttgart.  Growth elsewhere is focused on increasing frequency on core business routes from Manchester and Southampton as well as retiming flights to better fit around the working day.

The BBC is reporting, however, that Southampton Airport is due to see substantial cuts overall.  Routes to Faro, Palma, Alicante, Malaga, Biarritz, Nantes, Bordeaux, Dusseldorf and Bastia will be dropped.  Flybe is the dominant carrier at the airport and this will cause it substantial difficulties unless new carriers come in.

With the exception of Dusseldorf, the Southampton changes seem to be in line with Flybe’s new approach.  It will be reducing its focus on holiday routes in order to concentrate on business and ‘visiting friends and family’ services.

Flybe has said that there will be more announcements to come so we can expect additional services to be announced over the coming months.

Tickets are now on sale at for the Summer season, which runs until late October.

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  1. Just the one question from me. Why on earth would people from across the UK want (or choose) to fly to Southend?

    • The Original David says:

      If you’re heading to anywhere east of Liverpool Street, Southend is probably the next best option after LCY.

    • Shoestring says:

      Ranked best London airport by Which? 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. Award winning airport. Short and long stay carparks right next to the terminal and up to 8 trains an hour taking you to London in less than 45 minutes.

      Admittedly not brilliant to get to from Cornwall.

      • NigelthePensioner says:

        Hate these Ryan Air style, O level failing, geographic descriptions…..London Gatwick, London Southend, London Luton. What next, London Inverness???

        • London Oxford was fantastic when Minoan ran the service to Edinburgh.

        • London Southend is quicker than Gatwick or Heathrow if you start at our office (Bank of England, give or take a few hundred metres).

          • And if you go by car.

            Go by public transport and Gatwick is quickest.

          • Marginal, I’d say, because we are 3 mins from Liverpool St and I can walk straight onto the airport train. Getting to London Bridge from LGW would take a little longer. No more than 5 mins in it anyway.

          • Unless something had changed those trains to Gatwick through the east of London, St Pancras, Farringdon, London Bridge are very unreliable. I dislike Gatwick, it’s my last choice, arriving back at LGW and finding no service beyond London Bridge became the norm. The train service into Victoria is no use whatsoever if you live anywhere east in London.
            Southend has excellent connectivity for those anywhere in easy reach of Liverpool Street.

        • Like “London Heathrow” in Middlesex which is actually 19 miles by road from Central London?

          Surely the key thing is speed and accessibility. For many Londoners and people living in the South East, the “other” airports are easier and quicker to get to.

          There is only one commercial airport that is really in London and that is LCY.

          Where do you want planes to land? The Mall?

        • Nigel, you should TRY the new Istanbul main airport, over 40kms (50mins) from the Bosphorus.

      • Eh? It has Newquay flights.

        • Shoestring says:

          Oh, flying in – true enough, I saw that the other day. I guess I was grouping it with Newquay-Heathrow – sounds great but in reality doesn’t save me much time connecting to LHR flight out to our place in the sun – wrong terminal – 2 – and poor connection times esp on return – not exactly cheap if there are 4/5 of you vs car & parking at LHR

      • Direct from Newquay with fly-virgin-connect -be

    • So that my dear old Dad and another 250,000 Brexiteers from Belfast, Glasgow, and Edinburgh can get to their Utopia.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      a colleague flies from NW france to southend, as it’s quicker, ironically, to get to Heathrow (where our office is) from his home via southend, rather than getting the train from his city (Rennes) to Paris and then to LHR

    • Spaghetti Town says:

      Not sure if you’re aware Jeff, but people do actually live in Essex

    • If you live in Southend, it’s probably a pretty good option tbh

      • Lady London says:

        Isn’t Southend closer to Ipswich than London?

        Also train and bus prices don’t seem cheap.

        Also worth knowing: there is a decent HIX right at the entrance to the airport. About a 6min stroll from checkin I think. If you are with car, parking is a bunfight so get there early. Decent Waitrose near there too.

  2. OT. Going to ditch my Amex platinum I’m January due to the price rise. Can I refer myself for BA Amex and get the avios sign up bonus for the new card and membership rewards points bonus to platinum?

    • If you want to risk a self-referral you would be eligible for a BAPP (but possibly not the free BA card) with the sign up bonus plus referral points from your Platinum card. I think Platinum and BAPP are the only Amex cards not affected by the new 2 year rule.

    • BAPP, yes. You won’t get a bonus on the free card.

  3. Shoestring says:

    One for the trainspotters: BORIS JOHNSON will reinstate local railway lines scrapped during the Beeching cuts in the Sixties as part of a package of measures to rejuvenate provincial towns.
    The Conservatives will make a manifesto pledge to spend £500 million opening branch lines that closed more than 50 years ago, starting with routes in the north of England.

    • Still believe in Santa Harry? Biggest laugh of the last week was the Tory press front pages screaming about labour bankrupting the country with £1trillion extra debt, almost exactly the same as the conservatives have added since 2010 despite austerity cuts.

      • Shoestring says:

        £500 doesn’t go very far – so yes, I believe it’s possible – they’re only talking about 1. Thornton-Cleveleys to Fleetwood north of Blackpool, currently a disused freight track & 2. the Ashington, Seaton Delaval and Blyth line in Northumberland, which would give 100,000 people a direct rail link to Newcastle, and 3. the Skelmersdale line in Lancashire, which would need only two miles of new track to connect it to lines to Liverpool and Manchester.

        Small change and no worse than paying for 3 short tramlines.

        • RussellH says:

          There has been a lot of talk for some years about the first two, but also Skipton to Colne, which would create an additional trans-pennine route as well and is therefore potentially of far more interest strategically, as well as connecting the far east of Lancashire to Leeds (much nearer than Manchester).
          Fleetwood + Blyth would be very significant locally, and well worth doing, but they are branches.
          Have never seen anything about re-opening to Skelmersdale though.
          It also looks as though the Leven branch in Fife will re-open, but that is outwith London’s control!

      • The one thing you can trust Boris Johnson to do is lie 😊

        • So a cheap commitment the buts a headline that appears to be something massively more than it is. Always amazed me that when governments talk about £100 million here and £70 million there many people think it is massive amounts of money, they forget you can win more on Euromillions.

          • Millions are small change when talking about the NHS etc. But all that matters to some politicians is spinning a good headline.

      • NigelthePensioner says:

        It makes me smile the way socialists always use the word Tory rather than Conservative thinking it to be a “derogatory” term 😁🤣!

        • ‘Tory’ was (and still is?) derogatory but some Conservative (and Unionist?) now wear it as a badge of honour befitting their… . You should not assume that use of ‘Tory’ implies that somebody is socialist, or even has left of centre views.

    • Will these link up with his bridge from Scotland to Ireland ?

      Every election sees its share of porkies but this election takes the biscuit.

      Love to see where are the engineers, project managers, plant operators are going to come from for this infrastructure splurge.
      Perhaps there is a magic tree.

      • Do you know how little railway you get for £500m?

        That is the list price of just 1 A380 with perhaps an Embraer on top, or 2% of the 3rd runway cost. Kimpton Fitzroy and InterCon Park Lane spent £75m on just refurbishment.

        • I think the Borders Line was about £300M. It is single track, about 35 miles long and has 9 stations. I think it was built on site of a disused line which would obviously reduce costs

          • RussellH says:

            The Borders Railway used to be known as the Waverley Route (referenced to Walter Scots novels). It was the North British Railway’s route from Edinburgh to Carlisle. It was double track, and services ran all the way to London St Pancras via Carlisle, Settle, Leeds and Sheffield. I travelled on it once, shortly before it closed.
            Unfortunately it is proving rather more popular than originally predicted, so that the cut price, largely single track layout prevents running more trains than the current half hourly frequency.
            There is now a pledge of £10 million to fund a proper feasibilty study into extending from Tweedbank to Hawick and then to Carlisle.
            Search “Camapaign for Borders Rail”.

        • Ee-opening an existing single track line for diesel comes in at about £2m-£5m a mile.

          It’s new build, high speed electric that is ruinously expensive. Land isn’t cheap.

          There would be literally hundreds of rail and road projects that would have better value than HS2

      • China, where else?

      • guesswho2000 says:

        We’re all overseas, the pay is better.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      If BJ (why has one man so many euphemisms for sex / body parts in his name) actually took a look at the majority of the lines, he’d find that a lot of them have been built on. The famous Oxford – Cambridge being one (although, after some research, half of this already exists: )

      Put it in the bin with Boris Island and The Garden Bridge…

      • How do we know BJ is a boy?!

      • Spaghetti Town says:

        Funniest one of yesterday was corbyns broadband promise

        • You can make an argument for treating broadband as a utility.

          • Spaghetti Town says:

            That’s all very well and good – just the fact Corbyn and co pulled the idea out of thin air to try and bride votes. Dangerous man

      • “If BJ (why has one man so many euphemisms for sex / body parts in his name)”

        What can I say ? 🙂

      • But consultation on rebuilding the Bedford to Cambridge section is taking place, with 5 possible routes.

        Pity the original route wasn’t protected. The shortsightedness of the 60s.

        Pity Heathrow and Gatwick were sold into the private sector, making development of one new London Airport virtually impossible. The shortsightedness of the 80s.

        Say what you like about Boris but he has vision.

        I wasnt a fan, but give the guy a chance.

        • Vision ?

          The Garden Bridge
          Boris Island
          The Scotland to Ireland bridge

          He’s full of grandiose vanity projects.

          In reality it’s dull bypasses, platform extensions, new rolling stock, port improvements, bus/train interchanges that make the difference and are usually value for money.

          • Shoestring says:

            2 out 3 I agree

            I always though Boris Island was a great idea – the UK’s version of HK International Airport – unlimited capacity (effectively) and near zero noise pollution/ could have easily justified 24hr operations

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Indeed, world’s longest guided busway was built on one of them (St Ives to Cambridge).

    • Lady London says:

      Only £500 million? Clearly courting the North vote. But just about the emptiest election promise ever.

      • Lady London says:

        Now, if they would promise to dump the HS2 line. Which no one wants and which seems to benefit only a few MP’s to get a bit quicker from their homes in Warwickshire to the Houses of Parliament for their free lunches, then there light finally be an appearance of honesty from thèse politiciens.

  4. Route through Amsterdam a lot. Can almost never get into to the non-Schengen Aspire Lounge with a Priority Pass card because of overcrowding. So a bit more capacity is welcome although, as you say, it may not make much difference!

    • Spaghetti Town says:

      Is the BA lounge going to be on restricted operating hours for PP like Washington Dulles?

      Obviously all the departures from washington are in the evening, but not sure if BA’s AMS flights have a few gaps between departures

  5. Martin Clarke says:

    We were in the Amsterdam BA loung last Wednesday. Fog at Heathrow meant an hour’s delay. Maybe we were unfortunate but there was nothing good about the catering, tables weren’t cleared and the toilets (outside, between the two lounges) were filthy. Service on the flight, though was excellent.

    • I concur with this having been in the lounge on Monday this week – no delays but the lounge was busy and catering mediocre. I didn’t see any signs of the monthly feature.

      Equally, flight service was excellent (10 rows of CE so 3 crew required in Club to get through the service).

    • IMO catering has got worse since the removal of chocomel. You couldn’t get a proper meal there before and you can’t get one there now.

    • SydneySwan says:

      I was in the BA lounge in Amsterdam 3 weeks ago on a SQ flight to Singapore flying J. I was very surprised that this was the lounge offering for SQ premium customers as it seemed pretty average even though the staff were willing. I was there from around 8.45 to 10.15 and it was very crowded. It is way below native SQ J lounges standard.

  6. OT: Can I use my Hilton points at a Hilton hotel to pay my lunch/dinner bill during a (rewards) stay?

    • Don’t think so.

      • Ah that is a shame! Off to WA Maldives on rewards, its going to be eye watering…

        • On the bright side, you could be one of the few folk who lose weight on holiday! I think TripRep had a few pointers about making the most of breakfast and the free afternoon tea (if included).

          • For the record I put too much weight on my last Maldives trip, evening half price cocktails were my primary indulgence.

            One of our friends that we met on our first trip there had lost a tons of weight for our return trip, he’d essentially switched to just eating one meal a day, so a hearty breakfast brunch was perfect for him. He’s an oncology consultant so I expect that influenced his new regime.

        • Fantastic Flyertalk thread on this hotel, with a couple of cheapskates in it. One guy took ramen which he cooked in his kettle (hotel refused to give him a microwave) and only ate breakfast otherwise (free as Diamond). Refused to drink except during happy hour when he would buy 1 cola. Strangely he decided he didn’t like the place.

          Other exciting tips are to hit the restaurant 5 mins before they pull the afternoon snack menu (4.55pm) and order something (burger, $32) which you then treat as a very early dinner and costs a lot less than the evening menu ($400 and up for a couple, even with minimal booze).

          Also a fun discussion on which restaurant main courses are big enough to share …

          You begin to feel sorry for the hotel.

        • That’s why you wanted a status match I guess. Try it and see. Amex Platinum for a month?

          • Realised I won’t use my VA points & 2-4-1 (taxes too high) so was considering sending them to Hilton to make use of them. I just spent all my Shangri-La points at The Shard, realised will never collect enough points for a redemption.

            @Rob Have been following that thread, good read, mixed reviews has me a little worried though!

            Have Gold already from historical Amex Plat match. Now the big question is, if I am Hilton Gold already, and have IHG Platinum, can I go for the Hilton challenge and get instant Hilton Diamond?

          • No, they no longer give instant Diamond, only hold. If you are already Gold you will get free breakfast…which according to Rob’s comment above might be sufficient. You could try instant pasta for dinner 🙂

    • Benylin would love to hear what you think of the place, I’m torn between trying it out and a third trip to the Rangali in 2021.

      • Will report back! I have stayed at Outrigger Maldives on all inclusive (brek/lunch/dinner/drinks) and put on weight! I have done the breakfast & dinner thing at other resorts and worked out okay ha!

        I wanted to get Diamond to get the lounge access / evening snack….

  7. IslandDweller says:

    @Jeff. Why would anyone use SEN? Because it’s a far better experience than Stansted is one answer.
    Train Liverpool Street to Stansted. 50 minutes. Train Liverpool Street to SEN, 60 minutes.
    Time needed from station platform to departure lounge. You can take over half an hour at STN, but under ten minutes at SEN. So, overall, SEN is more convenient than STN from the City.
    I think most people discount SEN without knowing how user friendly it is.

    • Isn’t the train service to Southend one of the most complained about in the country though, overcrowding, delays etc?

      • I think that was the days of the ‘Misery Line’ out of Fenchurch Street. I understand it’s much better these days. The thing is you can’t compare the service you get as a few times a year user with the daily commute. One is, shit happens, the other really impacts quality of life.

        • Good point.

        • Lady London says:

          I travelled on that line for 2-3 weeks for a contract 3 years ago and recall 2 passengers fainting in the morning as well as other incidents when passengers were ‘unwell’. It was worse than the Central Line at its most crowded.

          The trick is to get the fast trains that stop hardly anywhere.

    • Great little airport – we did an article a couple of years ago.

      • And the hotel too. I remember you were impressed with both, and knowing you are not ieasily mpressed the real conclusion to draw here is that development at SEN is to be welcomed and the place itself is worth visiting.

        • Yes, the HI at SEN is really nice, great staff that really try to make it all work. Bar on the 5th Floor with great runway views.

    • Lady London says:

      Is immigration at SEN also quick?

  8. I wish I’d known about the BA lounge when at AMS last week, and I was turned away from aspire as it was full!

    • fivebobbill says:

      You were lucky you were turned away from Aspire Andy, one of the low-lights of my trip a few months ago was when they actually let me in… 😒

  9. Prima Vista will refresh the food and beverage menu with an innovative, high-end offering, and a different menu will be exclusively designed by a professional chef each season.😳😳😳😳
    That won’t be a difficult task, the greasy spoon near my office could have done a better job than BA! The place was dire!
    Isn’t the lounge next door ( used by QR) also priority pass?
    In Europe at least the need for status diminishes every day. For £575 a year you get free lounge access and a wide range of other benefits from amex platinum. If you travel only once or twice a year just buy access

  10. OT, been given a large increase on curve to 100k! Any savings account I can use with curve to make deposit?

  11. If you are considering Flybe for the first time and likely to be hand luggage only please bear in mind that their luggage checking cages are very tight to their dimensions. Staff (at least in Southampton) are very happy to take £40 / £50 a bag if you are mm over. It might be that under Virgin they have become more customer focused but in September it seemed like staff were incentivised to get as many bag as possible diverted to the hold.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      If they are very tight to their dimensions, this implies that they are oversized and therefore generous. The great thing about numbers is that they aren’t subjective. If the cages were exact to the dimensions that would also be fine. The key, read the rules before one fly’s not when at the airport, or not at all.

      • It is the last time I’ll ask my husband to measure cases and not double check the measurements. Although it was our own fault and we could afford it I was still less than impressed and keen for others not to make the same mistake. On our return we took the wheels off our bags and of course they fitted in the overheads with about 20cm to spare. There is nothing quite like someone gleefully sending you to the extra Customer Service desk they had open in Southampton just to collect the extra fee.
        Rob did they mention how much of their turnover was generated by baggage fees collected at the airports?

    • £35 now, it was reduced. Zero leeway given though.

    • Isn’t the problem that the luggage manufacturers are slack with their measurements? If I buy handluggage that is marked as 350mm wide, 200mm deep, I don’t expect it to be 370mm wide and 220mm deep at the base/wheels.

      I’ve taken the precaution of pre-checking my Flybe cases in the cages at EDI when I’m using other airlines. Of course, it’s also really irritating when you do make the effort of measuring and buying exact sized luggage and find the rest of the queue are carrying massive carry ons with no checking being done whatsoever.

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